New government review urges all students should be offered internships.
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With graduate unemployment at an all time high, a government-commissioned report suggests that all undergraduate students should be offered the opportunity to undertake 10 to 12 week internships in order to improve their chances of employability. The ‘Review of Business-University Collaboration’, authored by Sir Tim Wilson, proposes that undergraduate students should participate in internships during summer vacation periods in order to ensure that they are able to compete in the increadingly competitive job-market of the corporate world. The report advises that those students who are able to secure a paid internship through such a scheme should be supported by the government via a tax credit or some form of a grant. It goes on to suggest that in cases when internships are unpaid, university funds which are usually directed to widen poorer students’ access to higher education should be reassigned to support those students on placement. David Willetts, the Universities and Science Minister, has argued that this will be a ‘legitimate use’ of the money raised by universities through the increase in tuition fees. Graduate unemployment is at an all time high, with employers seeking graduates who possess key employability skills, such as time-management skills, problem solving ability, communication skills, and application of IT and numeracy skills. According to the CBI Education and Skills Survey 2011, 82% of employers rated employability skills as the highest graduate recruitment factor. However students are unlikely to develop these skills solely as a result of studying for a university degree, frequently needing first-hand work experience to cultivate the practical skills desired by employers. The report goes on to recommend that sandwich-style degree courses, ones which integrate a placement year into the degree structure, should be introduced into more higher education institutions as the, "Evidence that a placement year improves employability opportunities is strong. Indeed lack of work experience appears as a key barrier to young people, including graduates, in securing employment."
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