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Brussels, 2 December 2010

Eurobarometer on graduate employability: Employers value teamwork, adaptability, communication and language skills

A new Europe-wide survey among employers shows that, when it comes to graduate recruitment, 'soft' skills are just as valued as sector-specific and computer skills. Significant numbers of employers questioned said that the ability to work well in a team (98%), to adapt to new situations (97%), communication skills (96%), and knowledge of foreign languages (67%) were important when recruiting for their companies. Almost 50% of companies with considerable international business identified knowledge of foreign languages as the most important skill for the future.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "These results clearly show that employers value a wide mix of specific and broad-based skills. The Commission's new initiatives, Youth on the Move and New Skills and Jobs, are focused on helping Europeans to identify and gain the qualifications and skills required in the job market. We are committed to supporting Member States' efforts to improve higher and vocational education, as well as promoting opportunities for study and work abroad. This experience gives young people the very skills that employers appreciate most."

Understanding better what employers need helps shape European education and employment policies. The Eurobarometer survey shows that work experience was deemed a crucial asset by 87% of the recruiters. When asked to choose one action universities should take to improve the employability of their graduates, 39% mentioned sector-specific traineeship as an integral part of a study programme.

Despite this, only 12% of companies say they frequently cooperate with universities on curriculum design and study programmes. There is more cooperation, however, where the recruitment of university graduates is concerned. When asked about the best way to cooperate with universities, employers show strong preference for traineeship programmes (51%) followed by direct recruitment from universities.

An increasingly competitive labour market

Today's job applicants need to be concerned about competition from all over Europe, not just nationally or locally.

The survey found that over a quarter (28%) of employers have recruited graduates from other European countries and 18% has done so from outside Europe. 41% of respondents said that they hired employees from abroad because they wanted the best talent available. Among companies with considerable international dealings, 48% stated that foreign language skills are the most important skills for the future.

Over 7 000 recruiters working in public and non-public companies in 31 countries (EU27, Norway, Iceland, Croatia and Turkey) were interviewed by telephone for this survey between 30 August and 7 September 2010.

To find out more:


Eurobarometer survey on employers' perception of graduate employability

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