The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to enhanced digitalisation in the workplace. How has this affected the graduate labour market and how can graduates enhance their employment prospects in this new landscape?
This blog accompanies a weeklong series of events for final year students in Essex Business School from 14 to 18 March that will provide practical support for transitioning to the enhanced digital workplace post Covid-19.
Transitioning from a degree to the workplace in the best of times can be stressful. The graduating class of 2021 have faced unprecedented uncertainty and change during their degrees. Given the turbulence of the last few years, it is perhaps not surprising that a recent survey revealed that 70% of students feel there are greater challenges to finding employment now and 56.4% of students feel less confident about their future career prospects.
Whilst these feelings reflect the uncertainty of the times there are reasons for students graduating in 2021 to feel optimistic. The graduate labour market has been relatively resilient after the initial economic shock of the pandemic in 2020. One of the reasons for this is many graduate jobs are located in industries that could adapt to homeworking and adopt digitalisation strategies to survive and in some instance thrive in the pandemic.
In addition, according to the Institute of Student Employers’ annual survey, the demand for graduates in 2022 will continue to grow with vacancies up 22% compared to 2021 and had returned to 2019 levels.
The same survey revealed that some of the most problematic graduate roles to recruit were digital, IT, and Analytical roles. ‘Soft skills’ in digital and sustainable leadership needed to drive digital transformation were also identified as requiring development in the graduate labour pool.
Given these opportunities and digital and analytics skills gaps in the graduate labour market, it is more important than ever that graduates show case their capacity and potential in these areas to employers.
Demonstrating the digital skills employers are looking for
Crucially for today’s graduates they will need to demonstrate to employers they can work and lead in these new digitalised environments. Graduate employers now consider digital skills across a range of activities essential and transferable from degree programmes.
Jisc (an influential not for profit UK HE digital services and solution company) have identified six key transferable digital skills which students develop during their studies and reflect the skills demands in graduate labour market:
- ICT proficiency e.g. an understanding of concepts in computing, coding, and information processing and the capacity to work fluently across a range of tools, platforms and applications to achieve complex tasks
- Information data and media literacies e.g. the capacity to find, evaluate, manage, curate, organise and share digital information and the capacity to critically receive and respond to messages in a range of digital media.
- Digital creation, problem solving and innovation e.g. the capacity to design and/or create new digital artefacts and materials such as digital writing; digital imaging; digital audio and video, digital code, apps and interfaces, web page.
- Digital communication collaboration and participation e.g. the capacity to communicate effectively in digital media, to respect others in public communications and to maintain privacy in private communications
- Digital learning and development e.g. to identify and use digital learning resources and to use digital tools to organise, plan and reflect on learning; to record learning events/data and use them for self-analysis, reflection and showcasing of achievement.
- Digital identity and wellbeing e.g. The capacity to develop and project a positive digital identity or identities and to manage digital reputation (personal or organisational) across a range of platforms and an understanding of risks of digital participation in relation to health and wellbeing outcomes.
EBS is running a weeklong series of events aimed at supporting final year students and those planning their transition to the workplace how to showcase the above transferable digital skills to employers. The events will help students to continue to develop the digital skills that employers want in Data Analytics and Advanced Excel. There will also be opportunities to network and hear from leading employers and a digital identity branding expert to learn more about strategies to showcase your digital skills. Learn more about the events here.