Solutions to graduate unemployment

AHECS logoGuest post from Seamus McEvoy, Chairperson, the Association of Higher Education Careers Services.

As the election approaches, one of the key issues is the scourge of unemployment in our country. That is why AHECS – the representative body for higher education Careers Services – has written an open letter to all election candidates outlining what we see as the three most urgent policy initiatives needed in higher education in Ireland to address graduate unemployment.
Our three proposals are centred on:

  • employability skills development;
  • career management learning; and
  • entrepreneurship and innovation.

We believe that these three issues need to be to the forefront of policy and practice in the Irish higher education sector.
The letter is accompanied by a supporting document, based on consultations with our members, giving detailed recommendations on how these policies should be implemented. The policies support and build on the key recommendations of the Hunt report – national strategy for higher education to 2030.
Every year, our members interact with the 180,000 students who are studying in the higher education sector and particularly with the 50,000 graduating students of that year. This gives us a unique insight into the issues facing today’s graduates in their efforts to find employment. AHECS sees career management as a critical knowledge and skill deficit for many students which hinders and impedes their individual career development and ultimately the development of Ireland as a knowledge economy and society.
AHECS proposes that employability and career management are placed at the heart of curriculum development and that they form an integral part of third level education strategy in Ireland. In addition, we recognise that entrepreneurship and innovation has a significant role to play in our economic recovery. In the current economic climate, graduates need to be job shapers, equipped with the skills needed to identify and create new opportunities for themselves. The benefits of creative thinking and innovation can assist individuals shape new careers within the economy. This too needs to be mainstreamed into higher education.

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