Dr Aysha Divan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds. She is currently Director of Taught Graduate Student Education and has extensive experience in programme portfolio development, particularly at Masters level. Dr Divan is a panel member for the Society of Biology accreditation scheme.
Graduates face increasing challenges trying to break into the crowded employment market. Employers are now looking for a wealth of skills and experiences that applicants can offer the company and these are the key markers that can set them apart from the next candidate. While developing the Degree Accreditation Programme, the Society of Biology worked with employers to find out exactly what skills they are looking for from graduates. All degree programmes accredited by the Society of Biology include a significant period of practical work experience, which ensures that students are workplace ready and will integrate well into their new role.
Some of the biggest challenges facing new graduates when looking for work:
- Understanding the diversity of roles in the bioscience sector
Students are not always aware of the diversity of roles that they can move into within the industry. By working with leading graduate employers and recruiters, universities with degrees accredited by the Society of Biology usually offer their students access to employer networks, which help give students a more comprehensive understanding of the possible job roles there are out there.
- Knowing what employers look for in new graduates
Many students want to know how employers select graduates for a particular job – what key attributes they look for. By working with recruiting experts at organisations which hire STEM graduates, the Society of Biology aims to drive up standards of learning and teaching in the biosciences and ensure a pipeline of graduates with the key skills and attributes that potential employers are looking for. The Society of Biology also encourages universities to work with employers when designing and developing their curriculum of the accredited degree programmes to ensure students are receiving the most accurate and relevant advice and learning programme.
- An increasing demand for practical experience
Learning theories about a subject is not enough; employers are looking for graduates with experience of knowledge application. All accredited degrees include an extended research period such as an industrial placement, or integrated master’s year, which ensure that students have the chance to spend up to a year developing their practical research skills.
Above all, it’s about standing out from the crowd. Students need a way to set themselves apart and to be the most ideal candidate for an application. A degree accredited by the Society of Biology highlights academic excellence and provides graduates able to enter into employment in either academic or industrial research. This, along with evidence of skills should stand any graduate in good stead to impress a potential employer.