Today’s graduates may be lacking in basic skills

When you are recruiting and selecting your graduates, your primary focus may be on hiring with a long-term view and developing them into future leaders. However, recent studies have indicated that leadership development aside, a worrying number of graduates today rank poorly for even the most basic skills, such as literacy.

In one such study, it was revealed that graduates from several high-profile European nations failed to score highly in simple literacy tests. This insight was presented as part of the OECD's Education at a Glance 2014 report, which assessed a wealth of performance indicators among individuals from different countries and with different levels of education.

The OECD measured the scores (from 1 to 5) that people scored on a standard literary assessment, segmenting them according to their level of education – from below upper secondary education, to upper secondary or post-secondary (but not tertiary) education, to tertiary education. 

Less than a quarter (24 per cent) of OECD graduates with a tertiary education scored a 4 or a 5 on the test. However, the results appear even more dire when one looks at certain individual countries.

Graduates from southern Europe in particular were singled out has having low levels of literacy, with alarmingly low proportions of those from Spain and Italy (both 12 per cent) achieving the top two scores. This put them on a similar level of literacy as secondary school leavers from Japan, Finland and the Netherlands.

Other highly developed nations from around the world, such as Korea (14 per cent), did not fare much better.

Encouragingly, Australia (32 per cent) produced one of the highest proportions in the OECD. However, with less than a third of tertiary-educated individuals in the country boasting exceptional literary skills, there is still much room for improvement.

Whether or not literacy competency is a trait you value highly in your graduate selection, your focus will likely be on helping them succeed in your organisation and develop internally. Profiling tools such as the Graduate Talent Assessment can offer you greater insight into your graduates' performance and guide them on the path to development opportunities.