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Regular version of the site

What Employers Expect from Graduates

Personal qualities and experience are graduates' key assets in applying for their first job, followed by technical knowledge and skills deemed far less important by Russian employers, according to HSE researchers.


Natalia BondarenkoHead, Monitoring of Education Markets and Organisations, HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK).
Tatiana LysovaResearch Fellow, Life Standards Research, Levada Centre.

School reputation and graduating with honours are not as important for future employers as graduates' personal qualities and work experience, according to Bondarenko and Lysova's study "Job Search Models, Recruitment Criteria, and Competence and Skill Assessment of Vocational Education Graduates: Employer Perspective." In 2015, they analysed the findings from a survey of 1,019 CEOs of Russian companies in six industries (manufacturing, communications, construction, transport, trade and services) as part of the Monitoring of Educational Markets and Organisations (MEMO) project conducted by the HSE jointly with the Levada Centre.

Potential employers are interested in graduates' technical skills and qualifications, as well as personal qualities and experience. Yet only 25% of Russian companies indicated computer and IT skills as important for job applicants, and even fewer (15%) valued academic performance, school reputation (11%), literacy and numeracy (7%), and foreign language skills (3%). In contrast, U.K. employers have higher appreciation of job seekers' literacy and academic achievement: 44% and 30%, respectively.

Personal Qualities Most Valued by Employers

Above all, employers expect graduates to show an interest in their work (64%), a willingness to take responsibility (55%), and the ability to perform as part of a team (54%).

Highly valued skills also include adaptability, the ability to interpret and navigate workplace situations, learn new skills and respond to unconventional challenges.

Finding 'Young Blood'

In seeking graduates, most (nearly two-thirds) of Russian employers rely on ads and recruitment agencies, about 50% offer work experience placements and internships, and 38% meet future employees at job fairs.

Russian companies rarely use collaboration with schools, i.e. by offering training, setting up departments at schools or contributing to curricula development, as a chance to find new employees based on first-hand information; in fact, only 5% of employers use this potentially effective approach to recruiting.

Higher Education Graduates: Room for Improvement

There is a strong demand among employers for higher education graduates, with one out of every four companies hiring them. Yet employers report issues with university graduates, such as sometimes inadequate technical and analytical skills, an inability to handle unconventional challenges, and a lack of work experience.

Just 40% of Russian employers are satisfied with graduates' prior work experience, compared to 60% of U.K employers. A likely reason is that the U.K. vocational education system is more practice-focused than Russian.

Who Hires More

Based on the 2015 survey data, of all Russian companies hiring new employees in the past two years, just 48% hired vocational education graduates, which is lower than in preceding years, according to the study's authors.

Industries most likely to hire graduates included manufacturing (62% of companies), communication (57%) and services (56%).

Technological Unemployment

Why machines will not replace humans in the labour market

Immeasurable Hardiness of Character

What is «grit» and why it's time to rethink it

Graduate Salary Expectations in Russia

Students of engineering and economics, undergraduates of state universities, high performers, young people from wealthier families, and those working part-time while at university tend to expect higher salaries upon graduation.

Female Employees with Children Pay 'Motherhood Penalty'

Female employees with children tend to earn less than their childless colleagues, but the difference is usually small, at 4% on average.

Russians with Degrees: Where Are They Employed?

One out of every four Russians with degrees are employed in jobs which do not require university-level training.

Why Women Executives Are Rare

Qualifications and education being equal, it's rare for women in Russia to make it to the top of the corporate ladder compared to men. The reasons for this may vary from a lack of state support to gender role stereotypes which view women as primarily mothers and homemakers, according to the HSE researchers.