Graduate recruitment and selection differs from other contexts in that graduate applicants generally lack job-related experience. Recent research has highlighted that employers are placing increasing value on graduates being work ready. Work readiness is believed to be indicative of graduate potential in terms of long term job performance and career advancement. A review of the literature has found that current graduate recruitment and selection practices lack the rigour and construct validity to effectively assess work readiness. In addition, the variety of interchangeable terms and definitions articulated by employers and academics on what constitutes work readiness suggests the need to further refine this construct. This paper argues that work readiness is an important selection criterion, and should be examined systematically in the graduate assessment process, as a construct in itself. The ineffectiveness of current assessment methods in being able to measure work readiness supports the need to develop a specific measure of work readiness that will allow more effective decision practices and potentially predict long term job capacity and performance.
The increased interest in examining graduate work readiness suggests that this is a construct of value in entry-level jobs and indicative of graduate job performance, success, and potential for promotion and advancement. It is also evident from the research examining work readiness, that some graduates entering the workforce lack the preparedness and work readiness expected of them by employers. In other words, on the job performance of some graduates has been found to fall below the requirements of their entry-level roles and as such, have failed to meet employer expectations.
The primary aim of assessment in graduate recruitment and selection is to predict and forecast a candidate‟s capability potential and future performance on the job. Nevertheless, even after selecting the “best” graduates, employers perceive a lack of work readiness that can hinder graduate success. This implies that current graduate selection practices do not effectively assess this construct. The discrepancy between employer expectations and graduate performance also suggests a growing need to systematically assess work readiness in graduate recruitment and selection. Graduates are unique to other employment groups in that they lack job-related experience, therefore work readiness may be an important consideration in predicting the future potential of graduates.
Current assessment methods, although valid in predicting performance criteria, lack the rigour and construct validity that would be required to effectively assess work readiness in graduates. Furthermore, the variety of definitions articulated by employers and academics on what constitutes work readiness is indicative of a need to further refine this construct. The value of assessments in evaluating work readiness will hinge crucially on how well the attributes that constitute work readiness are conceptualised.
To date there is little, if any evidence in the research of a specific measure of work readiness for graduates. The only scale identified in the literature developed for a graduate population and relevant in an Australian context is the Graduate Skills Assessment (GSA). The GSA, developed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), is designed to assess widely applicable generic skills acquired through the university experience and which may be relevant to university achievement and future graduate work. The generic skills assessed by the GSA include; written communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal understandings. However, the GSA does not assess the personal attributes and personality traits that may be associated with implementing these generic skills. Instead, the GSA was developed to provide an indicator to universities of generic skills in their students at entry /exit level. At exit-level GSA results may be also used as an additional criterion for entry into post graduate courses.
It is evident that current graduate recruitment and selection methods fall short with respect to the assessment of work readiness. Given the growing emphasis on this construct from employers, the development of a scale to measure work readiness seems inevitable. Such a measure would allow more effective selection decisions. It is also expected that such a measure would be able to more effectively predict long term work capacity and performance.
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