Five ways to prepare college students for the world of work

The world of work is ever-changing, with technologies automating workplace activities and new job roles emerging. For college students entering the working world, flexibility, self-marketing and work experience will be necessary for success. Here are five ways to prepare your students:

1. Work placements and internships

A qualification, or even a degree alone, is no longer enough to ensure a job in a student’s field of study. Training providers should aim to encourage work placements, internships and voluntary work as part of the learning curriculum. This will not only help to boost students’ employability, but also equip them with realistic expectations of the workplace and key transferable skills. The Department for Education states that all forms of work experience appear to be beneficial, with those who participate in work experience more likely to be working in a professional or managerial occupation two and a half years after graduation1.

2. Encourage networking

Work placements, internships and voluntary work can be pathways into jobs after college if students make a good impression, so they need to make a real effort to impress the employer. Training providers should practice networking skills with students so that they can gain the confidence to build valuable relationships during placements. Even if placements do not ultimately lead to a job, they can result in gaining referees that are happy to shout about the great work that the student carried out. In turn, this might aid students’ chances in future job applications.

3. Build soft skills

According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report2, training for soft skills is the number one priority for talent development. With new technologies continuously emerging, there is an increased demand for adaptable, critical thinkers with excellent communication skills. Training providers should prioritise equipping students with core soft skills such as interpersonal skills, leadership, teamwork and problem-solving, through day-to-day activities in their training and in work placements, where they can put these skills into practice.

4. Prepare for the application process

Applying for jobs is never easy, so it’s useful to prepare college students for each part of the process, from searching for jobs to coping with rejection. Not only does the application process require the ability to stand out on paper, but also to appear confident when demonstrating their skills and experiences during interviews. Holding CV and cover letter writing workshops can be very beneficial, as well as conducting mock interviews. Also, teaching students to stay motivated even when they are rejected will encourage them to keep applying.

5. Use digital tools

Across all industries, digital skills are required to in a majority of roles, therefore businesses want to hire those who are digitally competent and have knowledge of various platforms. LinkedIn’s Workplace Leaning Report revealed that the rise of digital is transforming talent development, to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce. Training providers must encourage students to use a variety of digital tools in their learning by incorporating these into sessions and assignments, so that students can become confident in navigating the digital space and apply these skills in the workplace.

1Department for Education
2LinkedIn 2018 Workplace Learning Report

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