I attended the Graduate Answertime event in London yesterday. The Question Time style debate featured a veritable who’s who of graduate recruiters and other policy makers involved in the industry. There were many interesting (and admittedly also some less interesting) opinions raised from the floor. The reason I highlight this is that there was one question in particular that caused a fair amount of debate and I would be very keen to canvas opinion about it from Future Talent
Is a 2.1 degree an effective standard to measure if someone will make a good employee?
The Question Time panel answering the questions consisted of key people from: AGR, NUS, British Chamber of Commerce, 1994 Group of Universities and the National Association of Head Teachers. The panels’ consensus was that a 2.1 degree is not a good way to gauge if someone will be a good employee and this opinion was unchallenged by the audience.
A variety of very sensible arguments for this were given including: the 2.1 cannot be considered as a benchmark since standards differ so much between different universities and even within each university from course to course. Also the university experience is about so much more than a degree (social and cultural capital) and personal development of students outside of their direct academic course should be taken into consideration.
So far, so good, and I don’t think this will be a surprise to those involved in graduate recruitment, however, it was also stated that about 75% of AGR members use the 2.1 as a benchmark when screening for their graduate programmes.
Therefore from this I draw the following:
1 – Most recruiters use degree classification as a screening tool for entry on to graduate programmes
2 – Overwhelmingly (assuming that the views portrayed by the panel and the floor were representative) the degree classification is not seen as an indicator as to how someone will perform in the workplace
3 – According to the recent AGR graduate survey nearly a third of respondents did not achieve their recruitment targets last season (the third highest reason given for this was that there was not enough applicants with the right skills)
Seemingly, this means that companies are not able to find enough graduates to fill their jobs but are using a screening tool to screen out candidates that has little or no bearing on how the candidates will perform in their roles.
Therefore it would be interesting to canvas Future Talent group members – especially recruiters in the group. Signup and discuss in the Future Talent group here.
How important is degree classification of candidates in your programmes and has this changed over time (or can you see it changing in the future?) and do you agree with the sentiment from the panel?