Skills gap
The skills students are most likely to underestimate include data skills and resilience. Source: Shutterstock

Problem solving, resilience and communication are the widest skill gaps facing employers, according to the 2019 QS Global Skills Gap report. The findings are a repeat of the top three skills gaps from last year’s report.  

Other soft skills that reported significant skills gaps include creativity, flexibility/adaptability, and leadership skills.

Released earlier this month, the report aims to provide universities, employers and students with a greater understanding of the gaps between graduate skills and employer expectations around the world.

“Understanding the global skills gap involves identifying the trends that continually repeat themselves in different contexts worldwide,” said QS. “Many employers identify the same valuable skills and skills shortages in graduates across industries and countries.”

The emphasis on soft skills suggests that graduates may be overlooking essential soft skills development when undertaking their degree, said QS. 

Employee satisfaction with skills

Skills gap

There are still areas for improvement to bridge the skills gap. Source: Shutterstock

So, what areas are graduates excelling at or meeting expectations?

QS notes: “Subject knowledge and leadership have each seen a 4-point decrease in satisfaction scores in relation to last year. However, there was an increase in the satisfaction score for resilience, rising from a global average of 58 to 63 this year.”

However, the skills employers are most satisfied with are: 

  • Teamwork
  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills

Conversely, the skills which employers are the least satisfied with are:

  • Negotiating skills
  • Leadership
  • Commercial awareness

Students are underestimating certain skills

The report notes that there can be a mismatch between student and employer expectations around which skills are valued. Hence, employers were asked to rank the importance of skills sought in future graduate hires, whilst students were asked to share which skills they think employers value the most in new recruits. 

The skills students are most likely to underestimate are:

  • Data skills (12th) 
  • Resilience (13th)

In contrast, employers place these skills in 4th and 5th place, demonstrating the disconnect between student and employer expectations. Students worldwide are also likely to overestimate creativity, leadership and language skills, whilst employers rank these lower than student expectations.

“Arguably, such contradictions contribute to the existence of a skills gap, as graduates focus on honing skills which could be less relevant to employers. The insight offered here can help to bridge this gap, educating both students and institutions who may want to take note about which skills they should be cultivating in their students,” notes QS.

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