COLLABORATION

Is collaboration the secret sauce to graduate employability?

SOURCE: SpaceX, Unsplash
Research-heavy industries such as aerospace engineering suffer from low employability rates.

It’s common knowledge that the labour market’s supply and demand mismatch is hurting fresh graduates seeking employment everywhere but the problem is even worse for those who took degree specialisations with particularly low graduate employability rates.

Case in point: engineering graduates in the Texan county of El Paso.

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the occupational employment percentage for engineers in 2018 was a mere 1.34 percent in Texas. This is due to a considerable skill gap between top tier local universities producing knowledgeable engineering graduates who unfortunately do not possess the desirable skills needed by local employers.

This is where multinational corporations like Lockheed Martin can help.

In a recent deal, Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) agreed to join forces on a new location in El Paso that will provide internship opportunities for students from the College of Engineering as well as provide employment for postgraduate students and researchers as supervisors. This also creates more employment opportunities for existing engineers in the county.

The opportunity not only bolsters the graduate employability rate for aerospace engineering students in El Paso but also provides an avenue for knowledge exchange between both parties, in addition to hands-on training for students.

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As UTEP President Heather Wilson commented, “…Through this agreement, we are taking the next step in our relationship and bringing more engineering and business jobs to El Paso.”

As it is, the total employment percentages for El Paso by occupational sector are more concentrated in the education, office and administrative support and food preparation sectors, with little focus on STEM.

This highlights the importance of corporations to collaborate with universities in order to penetrate unconventional job markets and increase exposure for their own brand to generate fresh, young talent in these industries with skill sets that match the industry’s preferences.

Businesses in the industry can collaborate with universities to improve the overall employability of graduates while giving sufficient upskilling training.

This is not the only time where UTEP has made efforts in collaborating with external companies to increase the quality of engineering graduate employability rates.

Earlier this year, the university worked with the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide undergraduate students with internships that will further improve the talent pipeline of graduates in the energy industry.

It is with these collaborative efforts between universities and industry players that lead to the growth in these occupational sectors with low employability rates and create a wider variety of job prospects for graduates to pursue.

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The agreement between Lockheed Martin and UTEP in El Paso is only one of many instances of collaborative projects that can potentially succeed in the growth of industries and unconventional job markets.

Such collaborations benefit all parties involved, with universities gaining from higher enrollment rates in said specialisation areas, companies getting access to a pool of talented graduates and students locking down employment opportunities to secure their future.