Contradiction Between Graduates Employability And Education

Educational institutions have come under intense pressure to equip students with more than just the academic skills. A number of reports issued by employers have urged universities to make more explicit efforts to develop the ‘key’, ‘core’, ‘transferable’, ‘soft’ , ‘employable’ and/or ‘generic skills’ needed in many types of employment. Therefore it is important for educational institutions to have a working relationship with industry to meet the requirements and needs of the employers. According to Bailey(Mitchell, 2006), “to succeed in this ever changing, increasingly competitive business environment, organizations demand employees with competencies which will lead to a high return on the employee investment".From the employers’ perspective, ‘employability’ seems to refer to ‘work readiness’, that is, possession of the skills, knowledge, attitudes and commercial understanding that will enable new graduates to make productive contributions to organizational objectives soon after commencing employment (Mason, Williams & Cranmer, 2006). Employability skills are those basic skills necessary for getting, keeping, and doing well on a job (Robinson, 2000). Employability skills are generic in nature rather than job specific and cut across all industries, businesses, job levels from the entry-level worker to the senior most position.

Employability skills are not job specific, but are skills which cut horizontally across all industries and vertically across all jobs from entry level to chief executive officer. (Sherer and Eadie 1987, p.16)“Too many young graduates leave universities without the skills, attitudes, and understanding that are necessary to successfully enter the world of work. The unemployment rates among graduates are alarming. Often jobs are readily available, but these graduates lack what is needed to get and keep jobs. It seems reasonable to expect schools to teach students what they need to succeed in the world of work." (McCoy, 1991, p. 94)

The main aim of this project work will be –

To evaluate some employability skills that are considered important by the corporate bodies for graduates employability

Make an attempt to resolve the contradiction of the Institutions reputation and graduates employability using the TRIZ method so that the outcome can be adapted to by the educational system to produce employment worthy graduates.


Unemployment of graduates or underemployment of university graduates is a gross waste that no nation can afford. Past studies have focused in identifying the reasons for the large unemployment of graduates. Jobstreet, a Malaysian employment agency conducted a survey of human resource personnel and bosses in 2005, and they reported that the major reasons for unemployment in Malaysia were: -

• Weak English - 56%

• Bad Social Etiquette - 36%

• Demand too much pay - 32% Educational Institution (Reputation)

• Degrees not relevant - 30%

• Fresh graduates too choosy - 23%

• No vacancies - 14%

In Nigeria, Tim Akano, Chief Executive Officer of New Horizon Training Institute, told Business Day, an interview in Lagos, that the high rate of unemployment was because of the lack of appropriate skilled manpower to fill job vacancies. He said there are people changing jobs almost every four months whereas others have been looking for jobs since the last five years. He reasoned that this was so because of the type of skills they have. He pointed out that there was a mismatch between what tertiary institutions produce and what employers need.

Even in UK, it has been reported that there are mismatch’s between what industry needs and what graduates are qualified in. One – in - 12 graduates from courses, including fine arts, drama, dance and music were not in work or further study six months after leaving university (Graeme Paton, Education Editor –3rd July 2008).

Recognizing the reality that in today’s world the role of educational institutions can not only be limited to impart knowledge, but also to contribute to maintaining a competitive economy and most important of all, to secure the dream of graduates (getting jobs, becoming socially recognized and successful) come true, it comes as a relief that some higher education institutions of the world (out side of Malaysia) has already begun to identify particular skills and qualities that they wish their own graduates to develop. So they can become more successful in the job market.

According to The International Employer Barometer (IEB) an independent study which provides insights into the needs and perceptions of graduate recruiters by monitoring the opinions of employers from large multinationals to small companies across a range of sectors6. It surveys which skills employers value most highly among graduates - including ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills – and measures satisfaction ratings on how far graduates demonstrate these capabilities. It also surveys which methods of recruitment employers find the most useful and effective.

The IEB survey confirms that most employers view social skills and personality type as more important than their degree qualifications (60% rate a ‘good degree qualification’ as important) and IT skills (61% consider these important). ‘Soft’ skills including communication skills and team working are the most important capabilities sought among new graduates, with over 85% of employers regarding these as important. These findings are not new – many other similar surveys on graduate employability highlight some of the same issues. Even if one goes back to the seminal 1995 report7 by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), we find that employers consider these skills to be important. More recent reports by the CBI, the AGR and the NCWE (National Council for Work Experience) find similar employer views.

The survey also found that it seems to be more important for graduates to possess a ‘good character/personality’ in a small company (81% of small companies view personality as important) compared with large employers, 60% of whom rate it as important. “Fitting in" is especially important in small teams. Employers were asked to rate their satisfaction with new graduates against these skills and capabilities:

Table 1: Top 10 capabilities employers are most satisfied with and their importance ranking

Importance Rank

Satisfaction Rank

IT skills



A postgraduate qualification



Good degree Classification



Qualification from an institute with good reputation



Intellectual ability






Team-working skills



Relevant Course of study






Cultural fit with your company



High levels of satisfaction were seen with IT skills and the degree classification, relevance and reputation of qualifications achieved by graduates. However, while communication skills were ranked the most important skill, they were only ranked 16th in terms of employer satisfaction. It appears that while many graduates hold satisfactory qualifications, they are lacking in the key ‘soft’ skills and qualities that employers increasingly need in a more customer focused world.

How can university reputation affect employability?

In a perfect world, the university you attend would make no difference to your subsequent employability. In this kind of world, a 2:1 in English from the University of Oxford would mean exactly the same as a 2:1 in English from Manchester Metropolitan University. Of course, in reality, this is not the case.

For the right or wrong reasons, there is a hierarchy of universities and colleges, largely based on tradition but also on particular strengths and weaknesses, which moves employers to favour certain institutions and reject others. Regardless of whether or not it is a legitimate recruitment practice, the truth is that courses do vary a great deal between institutions. Different syllabuses, teaching staff, facilities, and levels of student support and so on mean that the defining characteristic of a university degree course tends not to be the subject but the institution.

But why will the university you attended make such a difference to your future employability? It might help to break the general concept of employability into two: actual employability and perceived employability. Actual employability is the collection of skills and qualities that an employable individual has about them. While it is largely down to the specific person, individual universities have differing effects on your actual employability because they each have their own unique set of characteristics. By way of example, consider the following factors:

Course content - some institutions choose to emphasize the vocational/employability elements of a degree in their course content, e.g. a work placement.

Clubs and societies - there are many ways in which you can develop your employability while having fun. The Oxbridge institutions, for example, pride themselves on the many hundreds of committed clubs and societies that can potentially provide a valuable network of contacts.

Perceived employability is the element of employability that is largely out of your hands, otherwise known as 'reputation' and it is defined by the beliefs and opinions of employers of your institution. These opinions/judgments’ can be based on traditional views, league tables and personal experience, either first-hand because the employer has studied there, or from employing other graduates from the university.


This is a Romanized acronym for Russian: Теори�? решени�? изобретатель�?кихзадач

(Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) which means “The theory of solving inventor's problems" or "The theory of inventor's problem solving". Today, TRIZ is a methodology, tool set, knowledge base, and model-based technology for generating innovative ideas and solutions for problem solving. TRIZ provides tools and methods for use in problem formulation, system analysis, failure analysis, and patterns of system evolution (both 'as-is' and 'could be'). TRIZ, in contrast to techniques such as brainstorming (which is based on random idea generation), aims to create an algorithmic approach to the invention of new systems, and the refinement of old systems. It works on the philosophy of identifying contradictions underlying a problem and applying principles to remove those contradictions.

TRIZ has a list of 40 generic, inventive principle that can be used to solve technical and business problem. To identify the contradictions itself, problem definition must be refined and comprehensive using multiple tools like IFR and 9-windows.

ARIZ (russ. acronym of �?лгоритм решени�? изобретатель�?ких задач) - Algorithm of Inventive Problems Solving (ARIZ) is list of (about 85) step-by-step procedures that incrementally evolves a complex problem to a point where it is simple to solve. Complex problems cannot be solved in just two steps. For those problems which are so complex, that they cannot be solved with any other tools, TRIZ includes the algorithm to follow which will facilitate the problem-solving process. ARIZ is not an equation, but rather a multi-step process asking you a series of questions that integrates different pieces of TRIZ.

ARIZ is a very "solution neutral" process: i.e., it takes preconceived solutions out of the problem statement. It starts you at a position that assumes the nature of your problem is unknown. ARIZ reacquaints you with your problem by allowing you to see your problem with a fresh pair of eyes.

ARIZ features:

is a process of problem reformulations

is logical and disciplined

continually reinterprets the problem

is the main TRIZ method for solving conflicts

ARIZ utilizes:

Ideality for an understanding of the Ideal Final Result (IFR) (or Ideal Solution) to the problem

Contradictions, by working first with the technical contradiction, then the physical contradiction

Resources of the system

Scientific effects

S-field modeling and Standard Solutions

the 40 Principles

It is important to note that ARIZ is more than 50% problem reformulation! It is only through this guided reformulation that complex problems can be solved.


The IFR concept in TRIZ brings the philosophy of thinking about the ideal solution as opposed to the incremental mode of thinking about the current situation. Humans and Establishments often look at the problem by considering only the present circumstances in working towards the solution, believing if they solve only the obvious the problem is eliminated a quick-fix, the only hitch is that they end up with a short-term solution that limits the solution space by not thinking of all constraints and thus small issues get hidden inside the overall perceived problem.

The IFR is such an effective tool that allows for expanding the thinking depth about a problem in an ideal-case scenario and helps to generate creative and out of the norm solutions.


Nine-windows allow structured thinking about a specific situation in terms of time and space, with a matrix split into nine screens. The central screen denotes the present system, the one that gets all attention naturally in a problematic situation, and 9-windows helps structure thinking beyond what is obvious to the super system, looking at the bigger picture and also narrows thoughts down to the micro-details of what ensues presently. It helps to reason from whole to part and vice-versa.