BOTH EMPLOYERS AND UNIVERSITIES NEED TO DO MORE TO WIDEN ACCESS TO THE PROFESSIONS, UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER HEADS SAY
Employers need to invest in ‘diversity of thought’, says Head of Careers at Britain’s most socially inclusive top-20 university
Employers need to cast their net more widely to find graduate talent -- but universities also have a key role to play in widening access to professional careers, University of Leicester leaders said today.
Responding to a report from the Government’s social mobility advisor Alan Milburn, careers and corporate affairs heads at Leicester – the most socially inclusive of the UK’s top ranking universities – welcomed a call for leading professional employers to widen their graduate recruitment practices.
But universities also need to give employers a reason to consider their graduates by properly preparing them for the world of work, they said.
Leicester, the only elite top-20 ranked university to meet national benchmarks for the recruitment of students from state schools and lower socio-economic groups, submitted data to the Milburn inquiry showing that the top 100 employers disproportionately target those universities with the poorest record for recruiting students from the lower socio-economic groups.
"Of course, there are highly talented students at the 19 universities most visited by employers. But there are equally talented and motivated students spread more across the sector who can bring their experiences of developing and studying in a diverse community,” said Richard Taylor, the university’s Director of Corporate Affairs. "It is in all our interests; the country, the employer and the universities, to see talent succeed wherever it is to be found”.
Bob Athwal, director of Leicester’s careers service and former head of schemes at npower, said: "Some employers are going to have to re-visit their graduate recruitment practices in the light of this report.
"As a former recruiter for a big graduate employer, I can see the value of working with lots of different universities. Those that meet the social inclusion criteria can often provide graduates from different backgrounds who bring something fresh to an organisation.
"The real issue for employers is that they are liable to suffer from a lack of attracting and selecting diversity of thought by having a strategy that visits the same university every year. The consequence of this is that organisations then spend a fortune training and developing people to think differently and approach problems from a new perspective.”
But he added: "In return, employers will want universities to give them a reason to visit. They will want to find students who are academically qualified but also motivated and inspired and willing to take personal responsibility for their actions.”
The University of Leicester has concentrated on providing its graduates with employability skills and experience to help them stand out from the crowd, a programme referred to as ‘the extra dimension’. There are a whole host of initiatives including the Experience Employability, a six month Internship programme to help students make the most of the skills they gain through curricular, co curricular and extra curricular activities, such as part time work and volunteering. Nearly 700 students achieve the Leicester Award for Employability and around 1,500 are engaged in part-time work around the university to name but a few.