By Max Clarke

More than half of students want universities to help with employability skills, including customer awareness, team working and self management, a CBI/ National Union of Students joint report today reveals.

This comes as the majority of the 2,600 students surveyed say that they decided to go to university to improve their job opportunities, yet are increasingly faced with poor jobs prospects.

“Employability skills are the most important attributes that businesses look for in new recruits, but graduates are currently falling short of employers’ expectations,” said CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Skills & Education Director, Susan Anderson.

These findings follow last week’s publication of the 2011 CBI / EDI Education & Skills Survey which shows that employability skills are the single most important consideration for 82% of businesses when recruiting graduates. However 70% of employers said that university students need to do more to prepare themselves to be effective in the workplace.

Some universities already embed the teaching of employability skills into course structures, but the CBI is calling on all institutions to follow this best practice.

Commenting on the report is Aaron Porter, National President of the NUS:

"Access to higher education opens the doors to a world of possibility but it isincumbent on universities to do more to work with both students' unions and employers to equip their students to face the challenges the future brings. Students are increasingly demanding of their institutions and quite rightly expect more in the way of information, support and resources to prepare them for life after university.

"New graduates are expected to be increasingly adaptable in today's labour market and this new guide will help students comprehend the array of ways in which they can develop their transferable skills and career prospects at university by combining academic performance with involvement with their students' unions, clubs and societies, as well as by taking volunteering and employment opportunities.

"It is crucial that universities and employers work with students to provide proper signposting to ensure they are in a position to make informed decisions and to develop and realise their goals. A greater understanding of employability will enable today's students to develop themselves, make a contribution and fulfil their potential tomorrow."