The role of numeracy skills in graduate employability

Durrani, Naureen and Tariq, Vicki (2012) The role of numeracy skills in graduate employability. Education and Training, 54 (5). pp. 419-434. ISSN 0040-0912

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Purpose – The purpose of this article is to explore the role and importance of numeracy skills in graduate recruitment within a diversity of employment sectors.

Design/methodology/approach – The results of a mixed-methods study, involving three online surveys (including an employer survey), student focus group sessions and interviews with tutors, are presented.

Findings – The results reveal the importance that employers attach to graduates’ numeracy skills and the extent to which employers use numeracy tests in graduate recruitment. They thus highlight the potential for poor numeracy skills to limit any graduate's acquisition of employment, irrespective of their degree subject; especially since numeracy tests are used predominantly in recruitment to the types of jobs commensurate with graduates’ career aspirations and within sectors that attract graduates from across the diversity of academic disciplines, including the arts and humanities.

Research limitations/implications – Since participants were self-selecting any conclusions and inferences relate to the samples and may or may not be generalisable to wider target populations.

Practical implications – The paper highlights what actions are necessary to enhance undergraduates’ numeracy skills in the context of graduate employability.

Social implications – The vulnerability of particular groups of students (e.g. females, those not provided with any opportunities to practise or further develop their numeracy skills whilst in higher education, those with no (or low) pre-university mathematics qualifications, and mature students) is highlighted.

Originality/value – The article is timely in view of national policy to extend the graduate employability performance indicators within quality assurance measures for UK higher education.

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