Wisdom à la mode: launch the go-getters (1 of 2)

June 23, 2011

UK colleges and universities, in common with their counterparts in other Western countries, are doing a poor job of preparing graduates for work ("Not by skills alone", 16 June). The biggest weakness in post-secondary education everywhere is that those who are responsible for higher education policy, funding, administration and delivery have little or no experience of the contemporary workplace.

How do academics who live in the land of steady pay and traditional benefits relate to the challenges graduates face in trying to make their living from contract, temporary and part-time employment with few, if any, benefits?

The academy has for generations been turning out employees. The fundamental challenge for it now is to produce entrepreneurs or students who have an enterprising approach to finding work.

We've become complacent and we need to end that complacency. If the best and brightest of our young people can't find meaningful work, we need to address it now. Graduates can't afford to wait for universities to enter the 21st century. They need to learn how to market themselves effectively, find hidden employment opportunities and even create their own jobs.

Graduates should organise themselves and come up with creative ways to connect with employers (especially small firms, where most of the action is). They must also demand that the academy and the government do more to prepare them for today's workplace - and "demand" is the operative word. Given how ossified university thinking is, change will come only if it is driven from the outside.

In the meantime, graduates must take charge of their own destinies. With a little bit of help, they're capable of doing that.

Ron McGowan, Principal, How To Find Work, Vancouver, Canada.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald