Last week I spoke at a great conference/unconference in Leeds, the Graduate Employability Conference 2012, organised by the team at Gradcore. I really enjoy this event. partly for the topics and also because Martin Edmondson has been brave enough to run a half day conference and a half day unconference. It’s a formula that works well.
This is the second year I have spoken at this event. It’s always interesting to go back as a returner and see what, if anything has changed. As i have done in the past, I like to write my thoughts on a blank sheet of paper in no particular order and share what stands out. These are my thoughts:

>The cost of education is rising steeply. whilst entry-level salaries are decreasing.

> For the second year running, a student stated they received no advice or training in social media, whilst the employability departments insist they deliver classes and advice.

> 70% of career service time is spent helping write CV’s rather than giving advice. This seems a huge waste.

> Theres limited use of alumni groups, with little mention of mentoring.

> Social media training is delivered in the classroom, delivered formally. I think this needs a more social approach through mentors etc.

> If you want to get something ignored by students, put it on a poster or notice board.

> The main method of communication between the careers office and students is e-mail. There is little use of social or mobile text messaging.

> The average entry salary outside of London is below the £20k needed for an overseas student to gain a work visa.

> In the US, the quality of a course is judged by the cost of learning rather than the quality of the course. This pushes up the cost of education.

> Research indicates that newly qualified graduates will need additional training to be ready for work. Graduates offer potential for the future, but not potential now.

> An increasing number of students are leaving study before qualifying to open a business, or starting a business on leaving. It was noticeable that some universities now support and encourage entrepreneurship. This needs to grow and spread to all Universities.

> The careers service is focused on the top employers such as the big 4, whilst the majority of the open opportunities are with S.M.E,;s

> The first person a student should meet when they arrive at University is the careers officer.

> Recruiters underestimate the difficulties faced by newly qualified students, in particular with regards relocation.

> Much work is needed promoting brand “student” to SME’s. The jobs are with the SME’s but there is work to be done selling the benefit of employing a grad.

> When funding was available for internships and student placements, 70% of the placements resulted in full-time hires. Government should be looking to incentivize companies to hire students, and support them in relocation.

These are the main things I remember from the event.