Ongoing changes in the labor market and available statistics about high unemployment rates of young people require concrete steps in order to address the challenges and increase employment prospects of young graduates. There is an increasing number of initiatives to equip young people with skills needed for launching their own business and establishing start-ups, however, transversal skills that are required in the labor market and can increase the competitiveness of young employees, should not remain neglected.
#europehome project partner universities have carried out a needs analysis survey in order to find out crucial competences for the current labor market and identify existing mismatches of skills. Additionally, the survey allowed to identify not only skills employers require from their current and future employees, but also analyse the most desired and effective means of cooperation among the universities and companies.
The survey was conducted by five universities in five countries (Portugal, Spain, Poland, Latvia and Greece) allowing to analyse the opinion of employers, academic staff members and students; it also provided a comprehensive insight about the way entrepreneurship aspects are or should be present in the curricula specifically in the fields of Business, Economics and Engineering/Computing.
The results reveal that the respondents consider the following competences as the most important in the labour market:
- communication, thinking and interpersonal skills (according to students);
- interpersonal, communication and learning skills (according to employers);
- thinking, communication and interpersonal skills (according to academics).
Moreover, obtained results allowed to identify key skills that students and recent graduates lack and where improvements are most essential, for instance, the results suggest that although the communication and interpersonal skills were mentioned among the most essential skills, these skills were also among the skills graduates lack the most.
The results allow to conclude that the skills best covered in the current academic curricula are communication and personal skills according to opinion of academics and learning, thinking, interpersonal and technical skills according to the opinion of students. Academics have identified significant deficiencies in developing virtual collaboration, technical and information technology skills, while students consider that the curricula does not foster the improvement of entrepreneurial, virtual collaboration and intercultural skills.
The results also suggest that universities should focus on specific measures to improve the employability of graduates, for instance by including practical tasks and assignments in the courses and sector specific work placements as part of the study programme.
The survey confirms that cooperation with companies, by offering real-life problem issues for students to solve, organising internships for students are among the ways to address it. This is in line with the #europehome project activities which are focused on establishing and piloting an innovative cooperation model and aims to create structured and mutually beneficial ecosystem for University - Business cooperation.
The needs analysis survey was carried out among 5 #europehome project universities and coordinated by the University of Aveiro. It contains comprehensive data and summarizes opinion of students, academic staff and employers.