Press release:

New report identifies key ‘ready for hire’ skills graduates need to boost employability

Tuesday 28 September 2021
  • CMI report reveals the 11 skills that would boost graduate employability...
  • ...but only 27% of students can confidently demonstrate them
  • And nearly 80% of employers believe graduates aren’t work-ready on entering the employment market
  • CMI calls  on Government and universities to embed employability skills and career management support to help boost economic growth post pandemic

As many young people head off to university for the first time, a new report has highlighted the continued importance of graduating ‘ready for hire’ in the post pandemic work landscape.

The new Chartered Management Institute (CMI) report  ‘Work-ready Graduates: Building Employability Skills for a Hybrid World’ brings together new research and up-to-date feedback from academics in higher education institutions (HEIs),  UK businesses, and undergraduate students.

The report identifies 11 key employability skills employers agree are critical in equipping graduates to progress in the workplace, these are: Team-working; Critical thinking and problem-solving; Communication; Self management; Flexibility and adaptability; Initiative and self-direction; Digital skills; Resilience; Emotional intelligence; Innovation and creativity and Entrepreneurial skills

However, CMI found just over one in four (27%) of students are completely confident they can demonstrate these skills while nearly 80% of employers believe graduates do not arrive in the work-place with the skills they need to be work-ready.

Additional analysis of the most recent Graduate Outcomes survey has demonstrated that professional accreditation boosts employability. The analysis found  nearly two-thirds (64%) of graduates with CMI accredited degrees were in highly skilled roles 15 months after graduating, compared to 57% of graduates with non-accredited business degrees. Graduates on CMI-accredited courses enjoyed an average 8% boost in terms of their salaries 15 months after graduation, equating to an additional £2,000 compared to those on non-accredited business courses.

Other key findings in the Work-ready Graduates report include:

  • All students need to develop employability and career management skills
  • Students on non-business related courses say university equips them with just two of the 11 key employability skills.
  • Students need to stand out in a digital and hybrid world, but only 41% of non-business students have a LinkedIn account and just 29% of all students are interested in showing their qualifications via digital badging.
  • Employability skills must be underpinned with general career management support, something currently lacking with only 28% of students completely confident about how to search for jobs; 25% completely confident about applying for a job; and a mere 18% completely confident about how to write a CV.
  • Meanwhile, just under one-third (29%) of students do not believe their university offers support in developing career management skills.

CMI recommends the following actions to enhance employability:

  • Provide all students access to core employability skills, regardless of their degree course
  • Ensure students are able to measure and track their employability skills gain
  • Ensure students can showcase their employability skills in an increasingly digital workplace
  • Use existing and emerging national and regional networks to connect students and employers

Matt Swarbrick, Director of Partnerships, said: “As students return to universities across the UK, following 18 months of disruption and challenge, their thoughts will be very firmly on how to translate their degree into a great start for their career.

“We’ve talked to employers to find out what they want and the answer is clear;  ‘ready for hire’ all rounders with real world skills. Dual-accredited courses, offered by academic institutions in partnership with professional bodies, deliver this.”

He added: “Our message to prospective students is this: if you want to earn more money and enjoy better career prospects, do a dual-accredited course. To Higher Education Institutions we say offer dual-accredited courses as it will give you a strong graduate employment record and make you more attractive to prospective students. And to governments across the UK, we say look at the evidence: dual-accredited degrees deliver the best results for students and for employers - and can help our communities to build back better in the wake of the pandemic.”

For many years CMI has worked with universities and colleges to offer dual accredited courses and it has rebooted its own student product offer to incorporate the latest wants of employers, adding a new digital diagnostic tool further enhancing the employability of graduates.

More additions are planned for the future with ‘employability bootcamps’ set for 2022.

To read the CMI report visit

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Notes to editors

This CMI latest thought leadership research report, ‘Work-ready Graduates: Building Employability Skills for a Hybrid World’ sheds new light on the current landscape of employability skills for students and graduates from UK universities. It brings together feedback from academics in higher education institutions (HEIs), HR decision-makers within UK-based businesses, as well as undergraduate students. The research was conducted between December 2020 and August 2021.

Analysis of Graduate Outcomes: CMI commissioned JISC to undertake analysis of the latest 2018/2019 Graduate Outcomes survey to examine graduate employment and salary outcomes 15 months after graduation.

About the Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the Chartered professional body for Management and Leadership, counting over 163,000 managers and leaders in its membership community. There are currently over 11,000 Chartered Managers and growing.

Backed by a unique Royal Charter, CMI is the only organisation able to award Chartered Manager status - the ultimate management accolade, which is proven to boost individuals’ career prospects, management capability, and impact in the workplace.