Employability is perhaps one of the most ambiguous words out there. It is used in several contexts and is often interpreted as the ability of a student to bag a job right out of college. But with the growing number of applicants that are well versed in the traditional theoretical and practical knowledge they are presented with inside the classroom, it has come to mean something not entirely different but, broader in application and understanding.
Today, employability refers to a set of skills and achievements that ensure being hired but, also being successful in the long-run and profitable to the workplace and the chosen profession. It includes academic prowess but, also several personal attributes that can make an individual stand out from the prolific pool of applicants.
The Economic Policy Institute, a think tank based out of Washington DC in the United States, reported(1) that the unemployment rate for students that graduated in 2015 was a whopping 7.2% whereas 14.9% of the total number of graduates was underemployed i.e. working in positions that were below their skill level. These statistics are representative of the growing competition for jobs and how the slightest of skills can make the largest of differences.
Hence, these ‘employability’ skills can be detrimental to the vocational future of the students.
Several research organizations including the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a non-profit organization that links universities in the United States with employers, have delved deep into these employability skills that are absolutely essential for recent graduates.
These organizations collected data from over 260 of the largest employers in the United States and hence can be accredited to be a fair representation of the general opinion. These lists most frequently include the following:
1. Ability to be a team player and collaborate
All workplaces are characterized by a number of employees working towards the fulfillment of organizational objectives. These employees come from various backgrounds and have eclectic interests. Hence, the ability of a new recruit to cooperate and coordinate his/her efforts with that of the team is of vital importance. Furthermore, new employees are often placed in groups and therefore the importance of team spirit cannot be understated.
2. Time Management
We’ve all heard the maxim, “Time is money.” This is perhaps truer in the 21st century than at any other point of time in the history of the World. Time Management is crucial for planning and prioritizing assignments. It also improves employee productivity and their decision-making skills. The ability to achieve more in a shorter span separates under-achieving graduates with the employable ones.
3. Interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are the skills we use to communicate with others. They are imperative for the fulfilment of team objectives and also to maintain a positive workplace and social presence. Informal communication channels form an important part of a business and hence, being an able communicator with highly refined interpersonal skills goes a long way. The ability to communicate is also important for the influence an employee holds over the customers.
4. Technical Skills
These skills are important for higher employee productivity. These include the ability to scrutinize quantitative data, the ability to research and obtain information from varied sources, write and edit reports and proficiency in certain standard computer softwares and the technical knowledge related to the job.
In the fluctuating economic environment within which most organizations operate, the ability to lead when the situation calls for it becomes what differentiates employable students from the rest of the student population. That is why companies often seek out empathetic, innovative and confident employees.
6. Spirit of Creative Inquiry
Gone are the days of restricted competition and uninformed consumers. With the advent of the digital revolution and social networking, consumers are astutely aware of the range of products available and the startup bubble has spiked the market with innovative never-before-thought-of goods and services. As a result, creative inquiry and spirit of innovation have become the most important skills to have.
Companies need to think of singular products and services to differentiate themselves from the abundance of producers in the market. In such circumstances, employees that can think beyond predetermined norms and have an out-of-the-box outlook to their work reach the top of the employability standards.
These skills are essentially gained from everything students go through in their quotidian pursuits. Interacting with a diverse student body, being proactive in teams and extra-curricular societies, completing assignments in a timely manner and performing well in academics instills these skills in prospective employees. But, with the increasing competition, it is important to refine these skills to their optimum level.
Hence, Oust provides students a platform that under timed circumstances, allow them to nurture their time-management skills. With interactive games that aim at educating the masses through creative interactions, Oust provides its users ample opportunities to interact with friends and peers and in the process enhances their interpersonal skills.
The level of determination required to regularly interact with the creative interface and the variety of challenges available improve the students’ persevering abilities and forces them to find creative solutions at each stage. Thus, making the users more employable!