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What makes for an employable graduate?

After attending a Digital Leaders North East Salon this week I wanted to share my personal impressions of yet another highly stimulating and engaging session in the form of a recipe – just call me the Delia Smith of graduate employability!

Recipe for an employable graduate

This is a recipe for all in search of that elusive dream that one day a graduate will walk into their first day at work and actually be capable of doing the job they were hired to do.

Disclaimer: Please be patient, this recipe does take a great deal of time, collaboration, and care.



It’s not as simple as just placing your one good egg into a University. First we must prepare an undergraduate through a nurturing and inspirational education system deeply rooted in the world of work.

  1. Add exposure to world of work early on; take your well-loved and cared for good egg and add to nearby primary school
  2. Knead general work skills in to an engaging and fun, challenge-based curriculum
  3. Abundantly pour in school trips to local SMEs in a wide variety of sectors
  4. Mix the pupil and the school with a careful blend of visiting employers and entrepreneurs, while delicately combining useful STEM skills
  5. At secondary school, add in employability lessons and expose pupil to regular visits and work experience days with a wide variety of local businesses
  6. Futuristic core skills need to be filtered into new and engaging teaching methods
  7. Combine written exams with practical placements in related organisations

By following steps 1 – 7, you should be well on your way to producing Graduates Capable of Successful Employment. (GCSEs)

A little extra baking

  1. Immerse potential GCSE into a higher education syllabus developed in collaboration with employers
  2. Combine work placement with studies to develop a taste for a career

Ensure that a high quality foundation of learning has been developed here before progressing to further education. This will remove the need for Universities to spend the first year of a degree reinforcing what should have been learned during higher education.

Leave to chill

The student should then be left to chill for one year. This time is often referred to as a gap year. During this time, the student should travel, taking time to embrace other cultures and seek work placements.

Leave a little longer…

Some people may require leaving a little longer to experience more work opportunities. They may even want to experience entry level jobs and work their way up for a few years. It is important to allow them to take their time.

Deciding to go to University must not be rushed and may not be necessary until further into a career to hone specific work-related skills. It may not be necessary at all if employment is achieved in desired job.


Having been closely exposed to work experience throughout life, the undergraduate will have chosen a course having experienced the real world.

The student is now prepared and ready to be added to University. This is a three year process including a mandatory sandwich placement. Work experience will be expected to be added to other year’s studies for better results.

  1. Blend industry with education
    Mix talented undergraduate with a cutting-edge syllabus developed in collaboration with local employers. Content should be hand-picked from the finest ingredients every six months to keep it fresh.
  2. Stir well
    Employers should be stirred into University regularly by holding guest lectures, offering work experience placements and running talent schemes.
  3. Placement must be combined
    Take care to combine the undergraduate studies with a mandatory one year placement in year two. Remember, the ultimate aim is to produce an employable graduate. If the undergraduate decides to stay on in work after the sandwich year, this is a great success. The undergraduate should be encouraged to complete their studies in a flexible way around their employment.
  4. Turn up the heat
    Allow undergraduate to feel the pressure. Slowly introduce deadlines and expect these to be hit. Failure to do so, should result in failure of modules. Poor attendance should also be punished.
  5. Season with personality
    Season a balance of motivation, integrity, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit with a unique personality full of energy…

And Voila…. the employable graduate is served!

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