E(x) Development

Graduates Feel Unprepared, Employers Seek Competence

Graduates feel unprepared for the workplace

Despite record-high college enrolment, Gen Z still feels unprepared to enter the workforce Only half of Gen Z’ers credit their college or high school experience as critical preparation for the working world, yet they look to managers and leaders to trust their abilities and support their work performance and professional growth.

But there’s a problem with relying on managers and leaders. People get promoted for a wide variety of reasons and rarely on their specific ability to support work performance and professional growth. This means that very often their abilities in this respect is limited to the extent of the personal interest that they take in the subject. This doesn’t mean though that these managers are deliberately mean (although of course these people do exist!), managers typically are faced with a relentless onslaught of challenges and even the most well disposed find it difficult to carve out the time to do a brilliant job of developing you.

Employers are crying out for competent graduates

A recent YouGov poll has revealed a startling reality: over half of graduate employers found that ‘none or few graduates were work ready’, with new recruits lacking even basic attributes such as team work, communication, punctuality and the ability to cope under pressure.

Some employers suggest that social media and the corresponding tendency for Gen Z to prefer short form content is affecting an entire generations’s ability to effectively debate or disagree.

So what are employers doing about this?  Well, ta typical response would be to just do the easiest thing to do is to just raise the entry bar and hope for the best. Training and development is expensive and companies have been burned by millenials moving jobs very frequently. They see no returns on their investments in training and they are reticent to ‘throw more money down the drain’.

You will often hear straplines such as “People are our greatest asset”. When you read or hear something like that it’s easy for your mind to draw pictures of a wonderful supportive work environment with a boss whose first concern is your well being and development.

But do they practise what they preach? It’s interesting to find that generally the top 10 most important policies for businesses do not include personal development. They instead tend to be geared towards staying out of legal trouble and establishing behavioural boundaries for a conducive work environment. You’ll find a lot of resources advising how important personal development is, but you’ll be harder pressed to find it a regular feature on Board agendas. There are lots of good reasons for this, but the fact remains.

There is evidence to suggest that companies are generally taking employee development more seriously and there are some who have achieved lower staff turnover as a result. Some companies go a long way to making sure their staff have more opportunities than elsewhere, to develop. Some state that develolpment is a Core Value and some of those even act on it. There are some great companies out there. The operative word here, is ‘some’.

At the other end of the spectrum we still find the ‘sink or swim’ method of staff management, especially in companies that deliberately avoid staff development, where each year managers ‘rotate’ the lower performers and replace them with new staff who hopefully perform better. The principle is, basically, – “keep replacing the worst with better and over time will ensure we only have the best”. Some companies who employ this strategy even work to a specific percentage, regardless of the general standard; and some use this approach as an alternative to personal development – it’s cheaper, takes less effort to run and those companies know how to frame it such that young impressionable recruits even feel like this is a good thing for them!

We think differently.

We believe the challenge now is to align education with the real-world needs of the job market, ensuring that graduates are not just academically qualified but also equipped with the skills and attributes that employers truly value. The journey from the classroom to the workplace has become more complex, and it’s time for a concerted effort to bridge the gap and create a more harmonious transition for the next generation of professionals. 


So what does all this mean for you? 

Well, there are only 3 players in this game – The Government, Companies, and you. If the Government aren’t going to effectively address your challenges, and Companies are looking out for their own interests, then the only player left to influence your future is you.

All this information suggests therefore that it would be helpful for you to consider taking charge of your own personal development. 

Make yourself an appreciating asset that employers want to keep and invest in. This is what our Career Kickstart Programme is all about.