Sneak preview: Student Development Survey 2021

Mar 10, 2021 | Development


Ahead of our Student Development Survey launch next week, ISE’s Stephen Isherwood offers a sneak preview of what you’ll find inside.

Despite the economic and social impact of the pandemic, employers have continued to invest in the development of early talent. This topic will be hotly debated at our annual Student Development Conference on 16 and 17 March when we will also launch our latest data.

What is possibly one of our most eagerly anticipated student development surveys, will show that four-fifths of a typical year’s student hires still joined ISE members’ development programmes in 2020. But the survey will also reveal how the pandemic has changed the way students start work and how student development programmes are now being delivered, possibly for good.

In the long run, it is the knowledge, skills and attributes that students develop through education and into their first jobs that deliver the talent employers seek – and provide the foundations for a successful career. At the ISE, we avoid tired headlines complaining of skills gaps. Our analysis will show that employers are broadly happy with their talent intakes. They expect student hires to have limited experience of work and to require more development than lateral hires.

The survey will also highlight where our sector should focus additional efforts to make students more employable. ISE members won’t be surprised to find that employers think graduates have a better skills profile than school leavers and apprentices. Graduates will often have moved away from home and experienced three to four more years of life than those leaving school or college.

Having, said that, the comparison data in our findings will show that all graduate and non-graduate intakes share a similar skills profile, although absolute rates differ. It will also substantiate the benefit of work experience.

Experience of work, in all its forms, helps students understand how work works, and gives them experiences that develop their knowledge, skills, and attributes.

We are concerned that Covid-19 will hold back the development of students. If we extend our thinking to the next set or graduate and apprentice intakes, they are likely to require additional development interventions to transition into work.

And in a tough labour market, more students are opting to pursue postgraduate study. Yet our report will show that only a minority of employers thought that those who had completed a postgraduate degree had better skills and attitudes than other graduates. We support the pursuit of postgraduate study, but students also need to be aware that an additional qualification on its own won’t help them land a graduate job.

Employers and careers teams need to find mechanisms to make up for the current lack of work experience, in all its forms. We are hoping that the student market rebounds quickly from the pandemic. And that our Student Development survey 2021 will help our sector make more informed decisions about how they train and develop their early hires to ensure they make the most of their potential.

Register to attend ISE’s Student Development Conference 2021

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