R.I.P. employability - Long live talent integration

DEMOTIVATED – DEVALUED – DEPENDENT: three emotions that you shouldn’t feel as a graduate. Sadly, this sense of negativity exists amongst many of our young men and women who find themselves at the wrong end of a competitive and depleted marketplace that demands from them, more than any previous generation.

Talented, adroit and creative these young men and women have, during their tenure at university or college assimilated a good amount of theoretical knowledge and practical ability which then remains dormant as they try to enter the job market.

For employers this offers a double-edged sword; a true dilemma concerning the glut of talent that is available. On the one-hand they have to deal with the administrative burden imposed by a huge increase in job applications and equally, rather naturally, a corresponding and inflated expectation regarding the quality and standards of applicants is introduced. Consequently, organisations use ancillary activities such as charity working, summer jobs, volunteering and leadership roles as a seemingly useful way of sifting CV’s and signposting certain competencies.

Even so, the complaint to the government from many organisations and industry bodies is that graduates do not possess the necessary skills both vocationally and personally to deliver in planet corporate. The vocational shortfall is something that academia, industry and the government are attempting to resolve through dialogue and an improved efficiency in targeting funds.

Meanwhile, many organisations shoot themselves in the foot as they assess candidates against installed competency frameworks that have been designed and embedded for individuals with established skills and behaviours in the workforce. In effect, there is an assumption that certain core competencies are universal and should be possessed by anyone hoping to enter their organisation. This approach can be naive and myopic as it fails to take into account the cultural personality and intellectual footprint of each emerging generation and often, avoids the culture dynamic of the organisation.

There is nothing more saddening than watching a group of graduates at the start of an poorly designed assessment centre looking restrained and uncomfortable in ill-fitting suits while holding a cup and saucer of non-descript coffee. I often wonder what it is that organisations are assessing: a graduate’s true talent and potential or the ability to conform and assimilate into the corporate DNA. No surprise then that many graduates try to portray the very thing they are not: corporate animals.

Despite the very best intentions, Universities and colleges might also be accused of adopting tired and traditional methods in trying to help students obtain the necessary personal and social skills deemed necessary for corporate life. This misalignment cultivates a learning environment that concentrates on the ‘what’, while consigning the ‘how’ to the foggy interpretation and embryonic ability of the student. For example, telling a student that they must demonstrate social empathy in a team environment means very little to someone who fashions relationships via text and enjoys the murderous intent that is nurtured in Call Of Duty. It isn’t that a graduate is incapable of empathy; far from it – they would just like an opportunity to know how to go about it.

Yeah But is a consultancy that specialises in talent integration

The inner mechanics of neuroscience and modern psychology have moved us closer to a better understanding of what aspects of our emotional capital are highly influential in dealing with others and ourselves. Organisations complain that it is emotional capital that is predominantly missing from many of the students who apply for jobs.

This fact is undoubtedly true but it does not validate what science tells us about how and when we develop our emotional strengths such as: independence, assertion, empathy, self-regard, confidence and emotional control to name but a few. The simple truth is that many organisations are assessing factors of a graduate’s make-up that have yet to fully flourish and paradoxically, against standards that are more in keeping with the organisation’s mainstream employees.

To add salt into the talent management wound, a common complaint from graduates is that they attend assessment centres and interviews and rarely receive feedback on their performance. In the same vain, if feedback is provided, much of what they receive lacks sufficient rigour to be of any real assistance in their future attempts in gaining employment.

So where does this leave the graduate and industry? On the one hand, graduates need to develop important personal qualities which are, at the point of educational ejection; embryonic. Industry needs to recognise that wisdom and emotional capability cannot be fast tracked.

The fertile ground for personal and industrial growth sits in the area of talent integration where academia and industry meet and not in the corridors of Whitehall: they are not the experts. Until this accord is more fully established, the many talented young men and women of this country will be short changed and in this golden year of team GB – so will this country.

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