WUP 27/4/2013 A Birdseyeview- Youth unemployment rising around the world - governments should take care of their higher education offerings - In the Netherlands, and in many developed countries of the West, youth unemployment has been steadily rising, however in developing countries this is also the case, and according to The Economist, in a recent publication, ('Generation jobless', 27th April 2013), two main factors are contributing to the rise in jobless youths. In the West it sees the slowdown combined with the very strict labour laws as a reason, and in the developing world it is the continuing population explosion. Although University graduates are much more likely to find employment than those youths who drop out of education at an early age, the recent trend of Universities offering non-specific, or generalist degree prograammes has also led to a higher number of graduates who find it difficult to find employment after their studies.
Instead of Western governments blindly stimulating the numbers of high schoolers going into degree programmes, they should be carefully stimulating the vocational degrees that offer students courses that lead to their development and preparation for the job market. In the Netherlands there has been much criticism of so-called 'fun degrees' that have a very low graduate to employment rate. Also, the Minister of Education has now called for Colleges (BTEC level) to actually prove that they have enough 'real' work-placement positions for potential students.
Graduates need a complex mix of knowledge and skills to be able to convince employers to keep them on after the first year or two of employment; they need to be able to show that they have an in depth understanding of their discipline, and communicate this, whilst showing the skills required to be efficient, reliable and able to handle stress and intensive working environments.
At Wittenborg University, we believe that all graduates need a broad base of skills and knowledge, even if they are specializing in Marketing and Communication, or Hospitality Management. Logistics or Financial Services. To enable this, all students follow a broad management programme during their first year, in which accounting and finance, marketing and communication, information management, economics and organisation management are balanced.
As the programmes progress, students specialise more and more in their vocational specialisations, however continue to build up a body of overall management knowledge and skills. Hiring and firing people, for instance, is the same across many industries, however the Hospitality Industry will differ from the Information Technology industry in specific areas and these must also be addressed.
Throughout the different Bachelor of Business Administration degree Programmes all students are required to follow a Personal Development Plan, which has a high focus on employability, work finding skills and the ability to retain employment.
Also, at Master's level, vocational research degrees will play an important role in developing a much more industry specific higher education offering. Young graduate employees are much more likely to be held accountable by employers than their counterparts 20 or even only 10 years ago, and degree programmes need to enable their graduates to show that they can fit into a workplace quickly, learn fast and be re-employable.
For instance, the Master of Science in International Hospitality Management focuses on developing an entrepreneurial and innovative approach to managing a Hotel, or Resort - the service industry develops fast and its young managers must be ale to move and adapt quickly to changes in their business environment.
As Dutch Universities and Colleges develop and rollout degree programmes in the coming years they must focus increasingly on the employability of graduates, but also employee retention levels.