Graduates: Employment

Department for Education written question – answered on 9th May 2019.

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Photo of Paul Farrelly Paul Farrelly Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that universities develop courses in consultation with industry professionals to enable graduates to develop adequate skills for the workplace.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Vice-Chair, Conservative Party, Minister of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Universities and Science) (Joint with the Department for Education)

It is important that universities focus on ensuring that their graduates have the skills needed, including technical, vocational and transferable skills, to gain a positive outcome from their degree. The primary aim of the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator, is to ensure that higher education delivers positive outcomes for students and that it has a regulatory focus to ensure that students are able to progress into employment or further study.

Collaboration between universities and business is increasingly important, both in the development of work-ready, highly skilled graduates and in contributing to local and regional economic growth. There is already a strong track record of collaboration. For example, Teesside University’s Digital City innovation initiative is helping local small and medium-sized enterprises to place graduate interns in their businesses by providing recruitment support and a 50% contribution towards their salary.

The government is supporting greater collaboration between businesses and universities in a number of ways:

  • The OfS is providing £20 million for the Institute of Coding which will target a skills gap in digital skills and involves collaboration between education providers and industry. This includes working together to create core content and introducing flexible ways to learn.

It is important to remember, however, that universities are autonomous institutions and, as such, that they are responsible for the courses that they develop and that the government does not prescribe that certain content needs to be included.

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