Graduate employability beyond COVID

By Katherine Underwood on September, 24 2021

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Katherine Underwood

Katherine is a relationship management specialist and works closely with Readygrad’s Education provider partners. With a background in growing key accounts and distribution networks in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Europe, she is passionate about developing long-term partnerships with like-minded organisations.

Graduate employability has been transforming into a digitally-driven landscape for some time.

The World Economic Forum’s 2020 report on The Future of Jobs estimates that 85 million jobs will be displaced by automation by 2025, with Microsoft estimating another 149 million will be created in digital sectors.

However, whilst this trend has been developing at a variety of paces in different sectors and organisations, COVID has accelerated everyone towards digitalisation. Workplace disruption and remote working have forced even the most traditionally-minded employers to adopt new technologies and adapt to new practices. Indeed, the rapid emergence of new technologies, digital platforms and virtual connection tools have exposed skills gaps in many organisations, creating opportunities for new graduates.

Beyond a digital focus, how else has COVID shifted employer requirements? McKinsey research predicts that many jobs are likely to continue in a remote or hybrid capacity, so what skills do new and future graduates need to succeed? Well, employers have been showing an increased interest in candidates’ soft skills, with adaptability being the most favoured. In fact, LinkedIn’s Skills Companies Most Need’ list, published at the end of 2020, identified more human-centric than task-orientated skills as being the most desirable, with skills such as ‘collaboration,’ ‘adaptability’ and ‘emotional intelligence’ all appearing in the top five.

Likewise, RMIT believe that “Managing projects remotely, adapting quickly to current issues, and leading your team with a collaborative mindset are some of the top skills employers will be seeking and are the best ways for graduates to future-proof their careers.”

Whilst the world is settling a little after the disruptions of COVID the technological development it accelerated shows no signs of slowing down. Although digital skills and an aptitude for the technologies of today will be highly valued by employers in the short term, it will be the ability to adapt to new emerging tech which will be crucial for a successful career.

Resilience, flexibility, self-management, stress-tolerance and a desire for continuous learning might have been thought of as ‘soft’ skills before, but in a post-COVID world, they should be thought of as essential skills.


If you have any comments on this article or other creative ideas, we’d love to hear them. You can submit your comments below or contact our Education Partnerships Manager: Katherine.underwood@readygrad.com.au


Katherine Underwood

Education Partnerships Manager


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