Small firms nervous about the Hear, warns report (UK)

 By Chris Parr

Some employers are nervous about incorporating the Higher Education Achievement Report into their graduate recruitment process, a report has found.

The “new and untested” method of measuring student achievement is putting smaller firms off, although larger companies are beginning to recognise the Hear, according to Graduate Success: The HEAR and Now.

Published today by the Association of Graduate Recruiters and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the research, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, calls on the government to help raise awareness of the Hear, and urges employers to utilise it more often when making appointments.

It comes after the National Union of Students warned against the introduction in the UK of a US-style grade point average system because it could “baffle” employers who are still getting used to the Hear.

The report also raises concerns that some employers are unwittingly using recruitment methods that present barriers to graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Hiring on the basis of a graduate’s degree classification, and experience gained through unpaid internships, rather than assessing the candidates’ ability to do the job on an equal basis, are highlighted in the report as potential barriers for students from poorer backgrounds.

It adds that employers that operate a fair and transparent recruitment process are seeing clear business benefits, including an increased skills base and a staff body that more accurately reflects the diversity of their customers.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said he wanted companies to make the most of the UK’s “great wealth” of graduate talent. “To do that we must ensure that all graduates with the right skills have the same access to job opportunities, regardless of their background or choice of university,” he said.

“The challenge now is for businesses, recruiters and universities to consistently provide real opportunities for talented new graduates.”

Elsewhere, the report finds that many students leave higher education without clear career ideas, and says there is strong evidence that those with fewer social advantages are less likely to apply for graduate jobs and to participate in extra-curricular activities.

It calls on higher education institutions to embed career planning into the curriculum from the first year of a degree, and explore how work experience can be built into courses to ensure all students have access to workplace opportunities.

Source: Times Higher Education