The rapidly changing global business landscape requires university graduates to develop and acquire new skills whilst adapting to unstable and unpredictable environments. According to Professor Mantz Yorke, Lancaster University, employability refers to ‘a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefit themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy’ (The University of Edinburgh, 2018). This definition can be applied to any time period, although the skills, understandings and personal attributes needed in the modern business world are changing. Dacre Pool & Sewell’s CareerEDGE Model, as shown in figure 1, supplies a foundation for the key features of employability; career development learning (knowledge, skills, experiences), experience (work, life), degree subject knowledge, generic skills and emotional intelligence (Dacre Pool & Sewell, 2007). This model shows that these five key elements can lead to increased self esteem, self efficacy, self confidence and eventually improved employability. However, the changing global business landscape means that the elements in demand are constantly altering, meaning other factors must be considered, the model is limited as it does not reflect this. Although, it can be argued that the extent to which a graduate needs to be able to navigate the changing global business landscape is dependent on the occupation, industry or geographical location in which the graduate is situated; creating a counter argument.
2.0 Reasons for Employers Needing Sustainable Graduates
Universities are increasingly pressured to produce employable graduates. According to changes in the labour market, a wider range of specific skills are needed rather than typical generic skills which are becoming insufficient (Green and Whitsed, 2009). The changing external business landscape can be analysed with use of the STEEPLE analysis, which involves social, technological, environmental, ethical, political, legal and economic factors within the business environment (Moore, Probert and Phaal, 2015). However, this needs to be carried out frequently by firms to understand the key areas within the current environment which are changing as a result of rapid globalisation. For example, due to increased social media use, roles such as digital marketing officers have been created; this requires graduates to make use of applications and social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – increasing the need for graduates to be skilled in e-communications and search engine optimisation. Similarly, globalisation has increased demand for translators and interpreters, as well as multilingual workers in order to communicate in a more interconnected world, which increasingly requires graduates to develop language skills whilst studying at university. In the future this may need to become a requirement at university (Green and Whitsed, 2009). Universities need to realise and understand the changing needs within the labour market and modify their offerings accordingly, to produce sustainable careers for their students. In addition, diversity and ethical and environmental issues are becoming much more important for businesses in today’s society, meaning that in order to continue satisfying internal and external stakeholders, companies need to maintain strong awareness of these issues. Therefore, graduates need be be aware of the problems surrounding these topics and be able to provide appropriate solutions to prevent a company’s reputation declining. For instance, 17,000 Google staff globally have staged a walkout this month due to the company being accused of poor treatment of women, unequal pay, opportunity inequality and poor responses to reports of harassment and discrimination(Lee, 2018). These issues are becoming much more apparent in businesses today and graduates need be able to recognise and prevent such problems; which may require additional training by either universities or employers for Business School graduates to keep up to date and research ethical/environmental business news.
3.0 Other Factors to Consider
However, globalisation and the changing business landscape can create more jobs in existing sectors as well as new jobs within new sectors – this could lessen the need to adapt to the changing external environment in some sectors. Therefore, the need for graduates to navigate the changing global business landscape and provide solutions which can guide organisations is dependent on the industry and location to some extent (DI PIETRO, GIRSBERGER and VUILLE, 2007). For instance, the UK (developed economy) is over 80% service based, which likely increases the need to adapt to emerging technology and professions, where as countries in Africa such as Angola for example are still developing their agricultural markets – with the value of agricultural production in Africa increasing by +160% over the last 30 years – making these issues somewhat irrelevant in these African economies today. However, the increased number of jobs as a result of the globalisation may be a result of demographic factors such as increased population sizes, in which case, increased competition for these jobs would likely offset any benefits created (NEPAD, 2013). Furthermore, it may be difficult to foresee or predict certain changes in the business environment, for instance, sudden changes in monetary policy which lead to increased/decreased interest rates, altering demand, supply and business costs. Although, businesses and graduates should prepare for multiple different outcomes with the use of contingency planning in order to prevent uncertainty.
It is evident that universities need to continue to alter their methods and content of teaching in order to be able to produce competent graduates who are aware of the changing global business landscape. Dynamic strategic management as well as thorough and continuous use of STEEPLE analysis should manage this, allowing universities to continuously keep up with changes in the environment. Whilst Business School students should keep up to date with business news and changes in legal, economic, ethical and environmental standards, as well as changes in technology in order to become adjusted to changeable circumstances. Consequently, if graduates have these attributes and the ability to comply with the dynamic circumstances, they are more likely to be successful within organisations in today’s society.
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