This piece was originally created for and published by The CommsCo.
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If employability is such an issue, why aren’t universities teaching students to be employable?

The current focus for many universities is embedding employability in the curriculum. I myself was an Employability Ambassador at Southampton Solent University, where we taught key transferable skills to students. Solent’s teaching style focuses heavily on employability and ensuring students secure the best opportunities possible.

But not all programmes are created equal, and while many good universities are focused on teaching students how to pitch for business and how to tie a tie alongside other basic business skills, what seems to be missing is the teaching of technical skills. It’s these key skills, the ones which graduates, particularly in media and communications, are guaranteed to use every day.

Take Social Media Management or PR – is it just about writing, policy or good ideas and strategies? Or is it now just as much about scheduling content in Hootsuite, measuring results in Google Analytics, identifying key influencers via data analytics tools, or using Photoshop to edit images and shots or client spokespeople?

This is the absolute basic skill set which almost any entry level employee needs, especially in the age of digital communication. It’s the technical skills like these which set applicants apart and have created a skills gap which many universities have failed to notice.

From a personal standpoint, this skills gap is great! I was taught to use Hootsuite during my first internship and the knowledge of this skill has come into play in my two work placements since.

When I graduate, I plan to go into the marketing & PR industry, where the ability to write and create is vital. However, without the ability to edit a WordPress page, manipulate an image or manage a corporate Twitter page, it becomes much harder for a graduate to look like an attractive prospect for an employer.

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their business to customer relationships without talking to a human (Gartner, 2014). We live and work in a world where the ability to get along with technology is just as important the ability to get along with people. So why are universities only teaching students the latter?


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