The technological growth from the past few decades has had a significant impact on the skills and experience that job recruiters are looking for in students and new graduates.
A 2019 study on the rise of technology finds that new jobs from emerging industries will require applicants to have “learnability”—the ability to learn, unlearn or re-learn if necessary. The study says that these emerging industries are more likely to focus on soft skills, and that willingness to learn has become a higher demand than a specialized skill set.
Annur Pasha, a recent graduate of business administration from Humber College, has been looking for a job since May 2021. She says she is struggling to find a job in administration, marketing or human resources because of the qualifications that job recruiters are looking for.
“The trouble with the job requirements I’ve applied to is that they want experienced people,” Pasha says. “Everybody has to have at least two to three years of job experience, probably because then the training period would be shorter. But because I’m a fresh graduate, I don’t have that experience yet.”
Pasha says that sometimes even experience isn’t enough during her job search. “There is also education that comes under the qualifications, like how some recruiters want a university graduate or they want a specific degree or a license or certification for that job, which I don’t have,” she says.
Aside from the required technical expertise, Pasha says that soft skills and communication skills are becoming more prevalent in the business field. Specifically, she finds that employers are looking for clear communicators who are able to stay attentive in a work from home environment.
A distinct set of roles have emerged in certain industries where the long-term productivity of employees is determined through their key abilities, according to a 2020 report from the World Economic Forum. Some of the new skills that have emerged are resilience, flexibility, tolerance to stress, active learning and self-management.
The report also mentions how employers would rather lean on informal learning and training as opposed to formal learning. It says that 94 per cent of business leaders reported that they expected employees to pick up new skills on the job—an increase from the 65 per cent in 2018.
Deepika Tetarie, a graduate of graphic design and marketing management from Humber College, says that when she was looking for an internship most companies wanted an “all-rounder.”
“Some job recruiters say they’re looking for a person with knowledge in marketing and graphic design skills even though there’s already another job for people with those specific skills,” Tetarie says. “Sometimes they don’t offer training so the applicants have to go back to school because recruiters are asking for qualifications and experience that they don’t have.”
She says getting an internship was a mandatory part of the curriculum for her undergraduate degree, but it was difficult because they wanted applicants to already have experience.
“They are supposed to teach you and prepare for the workforce so you have hands-on experience, but they are more willing to hire people who can do the job,” she says.
Tetarie says that the purpose of internships is not just for students to work for the employers, but to “learn about their industry, to gain experience in their line of work and to know what skills they’ll need.”
An education to employment survey by McKinsey & Company showed that while 83 per cent of Canadian education providers thought that youth were adequately prepared for the workforce, only 44 per cent of Canadian youth and 34 per cent of employers felt the same way. These trends in job-hunting show how students find entering the workforce challenging without the adequate skills, qualification or experience needed for their industry.