International students, having gone through the rigours of higher education desire to get jobs. However, it is becoming clearer by the day that there are some gaps in graduate skills. Two important surveys give credence to this; the 2018 QS Employer Survey and the 2018 QS Applicant Survey. They reveal that there appears to be a shortfall in skill attainment across the board, as well as a mismatch in expectations among students and employers. So, today we’ll discuss how to bridge global graduate skills gaps and mismatched expectations.

The inability of graduates to secure desired jobs as a result of skills gaps often leaves them frustrated. As a result, some delve into social vices as there appears to be a communication barrier between universities and employers. This is a notorious issue pervading the labour market. However, international students can beat the odds when they understand the kind of skills organizations prioritize. This article seeks to bridge the skills gap so that students can stand a better chance before employers and in the workplace.

This is necessary because the Applicant Survey found that students tend to over-value the importance of creativity and leadership skills. On the other hand, they under-value the importance of flexibility/adaptability and teamwork, which employers regard highly. This serves as a wake-up call to higher institutions, as it relates to reinforcing teaching models employed. Academic institutions globally need to ensure that the gap between employers and graduates, relating to skills required is mitigated.

Lending his voice to this call, the CEO of Qatar University, Nunzio Quacquarelli said“It is becoming more and more vital that universities also prepare graduates for the world of work. This means that the development of soft skills, like team-playing and resilience, often becomes as important as the technical skills and knowledge acquired during a degree. Opportunities for internships, study abroad, extra-curricular activity and active learning can all contribute to the development of these and other skills universities want.” 

Furthermore, a holistic approach towards arming university students with employability skills needs to be encouraged. This is to ensure that these students are not taught something diametrically opposed to what employers demand. Better still, academic institutions ought to engage the services of professional recruiting agencies and top staff of sort after companies. This will provide students with first-hand information and professional tips on how to manoeuvre their way during interview sessions. This is one way to bridge global graduate skills gaps as well as mismatched expectations.

There is the error of an academic single story which informs students that graduating with certain classes of degrees is all they need to start off their career upon graduation. Without a doubt, graduating with a particular class of degree gives you an audience with your potential employer. However, employers look for problem solvers who give what the company needs and have the drive to take the company to the next level.

Employability skills include problem-solving, leadership, creativity, teamwork, adaptability/flexibility, communication, conflict resolution, research skills (where required), etc. Possessing these skills gives you an edge above other graduates. It, therefore, behoves on higher institutions to adequately prepare students for life outside the university. They can use social media platforms and the university website to their advantage. This will go a long way to bridge graduate skills gaps.

It is crucial at this time, for universities to address the gap in skills head-on, with every arsenal at their disposal. Relevant seminars/workshops and trainings can be conducted to bridge the information gap. Field trips to some companies and/or organizations can also be organized periodically to give students hands-on experience. Where possible, courses should be included in the curriculum and tailored to specifically bridge graduates skills gaps and mismatched expectations. This way, everyone wins.

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