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Preparing for careers

In this step, we will look further into some of the key messages about careers and focus on how you need to prepare for the world of work.

Below are some of the key points you may have noted from the previous video. We’ve expanded on these to include insight from a range of recent employer surveys and reports.

What do you think these could mean for you now and in the future? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

A key message is that you need to understand the new knowledge, skills, and aptitudes that you will need to develop. You will need to be adaptable, flexible, willing to up-skill, and motivated to adjust to different work environments. Careers of the future will require particular skills and qualities.

What level of skills and qualifications do employers want in the future?

  • There will be an increasing demand for higher skilled workers across the world. In the UK, there will be more jobs requiring higher level skills and fewer in lower skilled employment.

  • By 2022, it’s anticipated that over half the jobs will be in managerial, professional, or associate professional positions, which means an increasing number of people will need to have gained some level of higher education, whether through an apprenticeship, or college or university study.

  • Technology will increasingly be central to every work environment. Trends in technological developments suggest that boundaries will slowly dissolve between sectors and will change traditional ways businesses and people work. This will require continuous up-skilling and adaptation from you as employees to meet business needs change.

  • To find out more, download the ‘Skills employers are looking for’ resource at the bottom of this page. It gives more information about the skills and knowledge you may need and how you can develop them.

Does it matter what degree subject I take and where I study?

  • Across the UK, employers report that it is difficult to recruit people with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills at all levels.
  • 40% of employers surveyed said that they preferred to recruit graduates with a STEM subject.
  • 19% of employers preferred a business related subject.
  • 34% stated that they did not have any preference for a degree subject.
  • Only 17% of employers said the university attended was one of their top three considerations.
  • Important: Some careers and professions do require specific degrees, subjects, or other qualifications, so always check before choosing your degree if you have a particular career in mind.

What does it take to get hired?

  • When it comes to recruiting graduates, attitudes and aptitudes are often seen as more important than formal qualifications.
  • Although technical and basic skills are required to get past the initial application stage, other aspects such as personal qualities, attitudes, and general aptitudes are then seen as far more critical.
  • Resilience is frequently cited by employers as an essential quality for young people to possess – to be able to cope with set-backs and criticism, to be motivated to overcome obstacles, and to stay calm under pressure.
  • Crucial to the decision to recruit a young person are a positive attitude to work, punctuality, flexibility, verbal communication skills, and the ability to make a professional introduction.
  • Nearly half of employers surveyed stated that they had not hired a young person because they felt they did not have the right attitude.

Is work experience important?

One recent survey shows two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps graduates prepare for work and develops general business awareness. Importantly, a third of employers felt that applicants did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job.

We provide more information about how you can get work experience in the ‘Skills employers are looking for’ downloadable resource below.

What about the stuff that dreams are made of?

If you’re motivated by your values, have an idea, and want to make the world a better place, ‘social enterprise’ could be for you.

  • Social enterprises are businesses or projects that people set up to focus on tackling social problems, improve communities, or create opportunities to improve people’s lives. There are various definitions of social enterprise, but a key feature is that they see themselves as having a social or environmental objective – they’re driven by their values.

  • You may recognise these examples of social enterprises: The Big Issue, One Water, the Eden Project, Divine Chocolate, and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, and there are many more.

  • They make a profit and make a difference. Yes, they need to succeed and make money, but a key feature of many social enterprises is that half or more of the profit they make is reinvested into sustaining or growing the business. They often receive income from grants and donations, but they also generate income from trading or delivering their service.

  • Social enterprise is growing in the UK - according to government statistics in 2014:

    • There were an estimated 741,000 UK social enterprises – an increase of around 58,000 since 2012. The majority were small or ‘micro’ businesses, overall employing 2.27 million people (an estimated 300,000 increase since 2012).
    • Women and those from minority ethnic groups are more likely to lead social enterprises.

    • Higher education is actively involved – as well as offering courses to develop the graduate knowledge and skills to become a ‘social entrepreneur’, hundreds of universities and colleges support social entrepreneurs in their institutions. You can see some social enterprise case studies giving you a taste of how some of the UK’s universities and colleges are supporting students and staff in an inspiring range of social ventures. You can also see some of the entrepreneurship courses on UCAS’ search tool.

Where to find out more

Social Enterprise UK – a national membership body for social enterprise and has lots of useful information and FAQs on its website. You can also watch this video they’ve made about social enterprise.

UnLtd is the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs and a leading provider of support and access to funding social entrepreneurs in the UK. It also works with universities and offers a range of resources from which you can find out more.

Year Here offers a course for graduates in social innovation. There’s lots of information on their website and you can see their 2017 prospectus here.

Social Enterprise Market Trends 2015 – you can find more of the most recent government statistics from this Cabinet Office report.

Association of College and University Entrepreneurs – find out how university and college students are setting up and growing their own social enterprises.

Where can I find out more about careers?

  • Researching job profiles and using market data selectively can really help you understand the trends which are shaping future jobs. You can download the ‘Careers information sources’ document below which gives a range of websites and sources which you may find useful.

  • Always check the job profiles of any specific careers you’re aiming for to see if there are any particular qualifications, subjects, and grades you may require to enter the career area.

  • Finally, there will undoubtedly be jobs around by 2030 that don’t exist yet. Going back just 20 years, who could have predicted current jobs like social media manager, offshore wind farm engineer, or web architect would have existed? So, the world of work will continue to evolve and develop.

To help you explore this further, we have identified some sources of information and insight which may be useful for you to use. These are provided in the downloadable resources below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Smart Choices: Broadening Your Horizons

UCAS