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A survey conducted by Ulster University has provided a unique insight into the skills needs, recruitment practices and collaboration hopes of employers across Northern Ireland and further afield when it comes to recruiting graduate talent. Graduate employers were asked about their future graduate recruitment plans, average starting salaries, required skill sets and skill deficits, placements along with graduate recruitment selection activities and collaborative opportunities.

The survey, which was disseminated earlier this year, revealed that communication skills, digital soft skills and technical IT related skills consistently ranked highly in terms of importance amongst graduate employers. In addition, a significant proportion stated that there is an undersupply of these types of graduate skills, and many noted that improved collaboration between industry and the Higher Education sector can better support the regional skills pipeline.

The importance of work experience emerged as a strong theme across the survey, with respondents stating that the acquisition of relevant work experience was a key criterion in the selection of graduate recruits, and many noted that students they employ through work experience schemes such as placements are commonly recruited into longer-term paid roles.

Angela Scanlon, Director of Employability at Ulster University commented:

Graduate employability has always been at the heart of what we do at Ulster, and we are proud of the fact fifteen months after graduating, 92% of our graduates are in work or further study.

As highlighted in the report, common themes of collaboration, relevant work experience and the importance of written and verbal communication, digital soft skills and technical IT related skills are well documented.

We’re working to address how we support the need for great employer collaboration through our Integrated Curriculum Design Framework, informing campus based and digital learning experiences.

We are continuing to drive forward our work-based learnings, placement and internship opportunities for students as they are an integral part of building talent pipelines to ensure the future workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge to help address the skills gap, support economic growth and post Covid recovery.

Listen to more of what Angela has to say about collaborating with employers when it comes to preparing our graduates for the world of work.

Ulster University would like to thank all those employers who took the time to complete the survey.

You can find out more about the findings from this survey and you can access the full report here.

For more information on the research or to find out how Ulster University can support the talent management needs of your organisation please contact