The University of Southampton

What employers want from graduates

Published: 
9 February 2009
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Technology companies will employee graduates this year if they demonstrate exceptional technical and life skills, according to the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS).

Key recruiters of engineering and computer science graduates who are to attend a Careers Fair at ECS on Wednesday (11 February) say that despite a freeze on all other recruitment in their companies, they will continue to employ graduates this year if they demonstrate these skills.

When a selection of the 38 leading technology recruiters attending this week’s event were asked what they considered to be the top three skills needed by graduates in this economic climate, technical skills and aptitude were closely followed by communication skills and solid demonstrations of commitment and enthusiasm.

'Communications skills are surprisingly difficult to come across,' said Steve Williams, Development Group Manager of NDS, the market leader for single-platform pay-TV operations. 'Such skills are vital for companies operating across different time zones like NDS.'

There was also consensus that a university education alone would not be enough to guarantee employment.

'We need to see more work experience than a one-month internship,' said Jan Reichelt, Founder and Director of Mendeley, a company dedicated to managing and sharing research papers. 'We need evidence of project experience carried out in students’ own time such as software or web development. Pure university skills will not be sufficient to secure a position at Mendeley.' According to Louisa de Lange, Personnel Manager at Roke Manor Research Ltd (part of the Siemens group), only exceptional graduates will be employed this year and she advises early application.

'We are looking for the very best students. Our standards are very high and with fewer positions to fill this year, graduates will have to be exceptional to get a place,' she said. ‘I can’t emphasis enough how important it is for students to draw full attention to their core technical skills when applying – we are looking for truly brilliant engineers.’

Despite the economic downturn, competition among the country's leading technology companies to recruit highly skilled graduates is still hot, and Southampton students have a very strong reputation for the breadth and depth of their knowledge of different technologies, as well as for the strong mix of practical and theoretical understanding gained in their degree programmes.

The ECS Engineering and Technology Careers Fair was held for the first time in 2008, in response to demand from business and industry for ECS students. Over 1000 students attended last year's event.

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Contact Joyce Lewis for further information about this story.

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