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How can students accelerate their transition from education to work?

How can students enjoy a smooth transition from uni to work? Source: Shutterstock

With the 21st century comes new challenges that young adults need to understand and adapt to accordingly, and at times, these things may require them to develop brand-new knowledge or skill sets.

As reports suggest that many graduates across the world do not immediately find work upon graduation, how can prospective graduates circumvent this problem?

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) CEO Jan Owen AM noted in FYA’s report, titled The New Work Reality, that “young Australians face a number of significant barriers when seeking full-time work. When we removed common activities that young people do, such as gap years and returning for further education to look more deeply at the period we found it took on average 2.6 years to transition from leaving education to full-time work.”

Conversely, its 2017 report said it takes on average 4.7 years for a person to transition from full-time education to full-time employment.

While the barriers to finding full-time employment may vary between countries, the report found that the following are some barriers to finding full-time work in the Australian context:

  • A lack of work experience
  • Lack of appropriate education
  • Lack of career management skills
  • Insufficient jobs

Meanwhile, in the American context, Phil Gardner, Director of Michigan State Employment Center, said to The Washington Post that “three primary developments in the job market make it more difficult for today’s graduates compared to their parents”.

These include a shift in the size and makeup of companies recruiting on campuses, which has altered the hiring process; employers raising the bar on the skills workers need to start a job, in addition to being less involved in employee training; and the increased velocity of today’s economy (e.g. technology and globalisation disrupting industries, and the pressure faced by institutions to help students find precise routes into careers when those routes don’t exist anymore).

FYA notes that factors which can accelerate the transition from education to full-time work include:

  • Building enterprise skills (transferable skills such as problem-solving, communication and teamwork) in education
  • Relevant paid employment (i.e. combining studying and working in a job that is within one’s desired job cluster to speed up the transition)
  • Choosing employment with a strong future focus
  • An optimistic mindset can greatly impact the opportunities that a young person perceives as available to them

Meanwhile, a McKinsey Global Institute report cited three skills sets for the workers of 2030. These include:

  • Higher cognitive skills (e.g. advanced literacy and writing, quantitative and statistical skills, critical thinking and complex information processing)
  • Social and emotional skills (e.g. advanced communication and negotiation, interpersonal skills and empathy, leadership and managing others, etc.)
  • Technological skills (e.g. basic digital skills, advanced IT skills and programming, advanced data analysis and mathematical skills, etc.)

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