We are conducting a Review of Skills, surveying providers of
higher education and issuing a call for evidence from employers, students,
graduates and other interested stakeholders. We ask a range of questions about
skills and employability strategies, skills needs and skills gaps, and effective
collaboration between universities and employers - especially in relation to
work experience as well as supporting different students, different employers
and different localities.
There are a wide range of approaches and
partnerships across the UK and there will be both common challenges but also
challenges that might be specific to particular cities, regions or nations in
the UK. The review seeks to understand these challenges and welcomes input from
across the UK.
Our work is intended to help identify the strengths of the sector and innovative practice as well as what the challenges are and how these can be addressed. The review will inform how universities, employers and policy makers can ensure opportunities for graduates and their future employment success can be maximized.
In September 2016 we issued a call for evidence, gathering feedback from higher education providers, employers, stakeholders, students and graduates. We are currently analysing this feedback and are collating other evidence, with a view to publishing a summary report this year.
Key themes emerging from our analysis so far include: the importance of/innovation in work experience programmes, the rise of 'graduate attributes' frameworks, the critical role of careers services, employer engagement in course design and delivery and initiatives to meet local skills requirements and potentially enhance local graduate retention.
As part of the Review, UUK has considered some of the data available on
qualifications, providers, skills and employment. Data availability has meant
that the analysis of qualifications and providers has had to focus on England,
although the data on skills and employment and the challenges identified are
UK-wide. Our report, Higher education in England: provision, skills and graduates
shows that the employment rate of graduates remains high, as does the return to
graduates in terms of future earnings. The satisfaction of both employers and
graduates with the skills they have gained also remains high. The most recent
CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey shows strong current and future demand
for graduates among employers, and satisfaction rates for many different
skills of over 80%.
However the survey also shows that there is room for improvement in relation to such skills as business and customer awareness and relevant work experience. The evidence shows that the future success of graduates varies across subjects and across students from different backgrounds. There are also concerns being expressed about skills shortages, skills mismatches, whether graduates are getting “graduate-level” jobs and whether there will be enough graduate level jobs in the future.
As well as these challenges the skills needs of employers and those of the economy are diverse and often constantly changing. The range of higher education providers is becoming more diverse and the alternatives to higher education in terms of apprenticeships and vocational qualifications are growing. The higher education “system” needs to be flexible, responsive and innovative.
Our background document on provision, skills and graduates and this complements our previous reports on
supply and demand for high-level skills and
graduates, skills and jobs.
Greg Wade, Programme Manager at Universities UK, is joined by Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, to discuss skills and higher education policy, developing trends, and challenges facing the sector.