In recent years, there has been a shift in the way employers view potential employees, with skills components, rather than just qualifications or job titles, taking on a more prominent place in the hiring process. This has big ramifications for universities and their students, and in this step we’ll show you can identify skills demand, and how this might help you to embed in-demand skills into your provision.
For the purposes of demonstrating how data can help, we’ll use anonymised alumni insight from another American university, and also general data from the region it serves. However, unlike in Step 1, where we looked at general data for the university as a whole, this time we’ll hone in on one particular course area, Computer Science.
For context, we can begin by showing some general insight gleaned from the records of 728 Computer Science alumni from the university, which shows the proportion that are working in a field related to Computer Science, the percentage who are working in the university region, and the average annual salary for all:
As you can see, the numbers working in an occupation related to Computer Science is high at 84%, but what actually are those occupations? The graphic below answers this, showing the Top 20 occupations, according to the percentages working in them, and also marking out the occupations that are directly related to a Computer Science degree, and those that aren’t:
What skills are they using?
The alumni insight also gives us a wealth of detail about the skills that these Computer Science graduates are using. The graphic below shows the Top 10 skills they mention:
What skills might be needed in the future?
Understanding the skills that its graduates are using is of huge interest to a university, especially as this can then feed into course planning and the introduction of new modules. However, where things get really interesting is when we look at the skills that employers are looking for right now.
Most people graduating from today’s universities will follow a fairly diverse career pathway after completing their course. Even those pursuing very specialised degrees will often find themselves in what might seem like surprising destinations at some point or other in their working lives. At the same time, employers are increasingly having high expectations not just of the kind of hard skills that we showed on page 10, but also the range of generic skills that graduate employees will have.
This is often referred to as T-Shaped Skills, with the stick of the T representing the deep, expert knowledge that a person possesses, and the bar of the T representing that broader range of skills which complement the specialisms (some universities refer to the “global worker”, but the concept is broadly the same – a mixture of specialist skills with more generic ones that cut across a variety of occupations).
In respect of Computer Science, the Hard Skills insight we showed above can basically be seen as the stick of the T – that is, specialisms that are needed to perform particular jobs. The following graphic shows the Top 10 soft skills that those employers were looking for:
Using the data
Understanding where your graduates end up and what they are doing, as shown in Step 1, is hugely useful in terms of seeing how the education you provide is leading to employment outcomes. The process shown in Step 2 is then all about increasing your students’ chances of achieving better employment outcomes, by gaining the insight to help you see where your course areas could be better aligned with industry demand. And the data and concepts we have shown in Step 3 take this to another level, whereby a university can respond to the demand from employers not just for people with the right qualifications, but rather for people with the right skills – both the specific and the generic.
This is what we mean by understanding and improving the career pathways of your graduates. Step 1 is all about understanding the career pathways that your past graduates have taken. Step 2 is all about improving the career pathways that your future students will take by better alignment of your portfolio with industry demand. And Step 3 is all about understanding and improving the career pathways of your graduates, long into the future, by incorporating both the hard and soft skills that employers are looking for, into your course areas and modules.
By following these three steps, you will truly mark your institution out as one that is passionate about changing the career pathways of its graduates for the better.
If you would like to discuss how the kind of insight shown above can be used by your institution to understand and improve the career pathways of your graduates, contact us now.