Updated: Sep 9, 2020
As we begin week five of lockdown, with the promise of at least another three weeks of the same, it is clear that COVID-19 has had a profound impact across all sectors, including higher education.
Whilst many organisations have adapted well, moving to a world of remote working and utilising technology effectively, it is evident that one of the groups worst hit by this will be those who graduate into a shrinking economy this summer.
Universities serve many functions; educational outcomes, enhancing the student experience and offering CV-enhancing opportunities with graduates hoping to secure fulfilling employment afterwards.
Although a record number of young people in the UK enter university each year, there is little evidence that the expansion of the number of graduates has led to a better-skilled workforce as over 25% of current graduates are under-employed.
However, if universities are to remain attractive to potential students and society, it is clear they may need to adapt and focus even more on the student experience and Graduate Outcomes.
Whilst the Higher Education Policy Institute’s recent report on its careers services' shows that support for those looking for graduate-level work is on the increase, the emerging evidence from the Institute of Student Employers suggests that businesses are already reducing the number of graduates and school leavers they intend to recruit.
There is no doubt university recruitment will take a hit, with future income being uncertain. So, an opportunity for careers services arises in re-evaluating what is most impactful and creating efficiencies in delivery, so that reaching a wider range of students is possible.
Demonstrating impact, using a common language around “employability” and evaluating what works are necessary to drive change, enhance the student experience, progression and the employability attainment gap. This is particularly poignant for those universities with a significant proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Effective partnership strategies are even more vital. As larger graduate recruiters and employers work to develop virtual internships and ensure their 2021/22 campaign planning is relevant, adaptive and effective in this current climate; there is an opportunity to be more creative in developing real-world learning opportunities and embedding this in the taught curriculum.
Whilst the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) market may not have the same infrastructure as their larger corporate counterparts, it is still important to build community and SME relationships and identify ways to include them in the student experience.
The confidence of students and of course of this year’s graduating cohort is likely to have been knocked. So now is the time, before Graduate Outcomes, to build this back up.
Universities need to prepare their students for roles where there is growth (i.e. in the technology or creative sectors) and ensure students are equipped with the essential skills needed to thrive through their educational journey and beyond.
As the graduate labour market continues to change and adapt, so will the careers and employability provision in universities, as they are more important than ever.
We know that the impact of coronavirus on our economy and our society will be long term, and we at TG Consulting can help universities brainstorm for the future, evaluate delivery and develop strategic direction in line with current constraints and resource.
So, whether we meet you online soon, or in the future on campus, we are committed to supporting you (universities) and your students and graduates to fulfil their potential. TG Consulting are here to help you to build on the “new normal” and embrace the challenge of delivering in a different way through these uncertain times.
What do TG Consulting offer?
TG Consulting offer a bespoke service and are building a culture to challenge the way that universities, employers and suppliers work together, with students at the core. We work in true partnership with our clients, all of whom benefit from our insight, knowledge and experience.
You will receive our full focus as we approach every project with fresh ideas. As such, the work of TG Consulting has been recognised at this year’s UK Social Mobility Awards, as we have been shortlisted under the Small Business of the Year category.
If you are interested in a virtual coffee and a free initial consultation, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tonia Galati, TG Consulting Director & Founder