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Top employers tell students what they want in new hires at Expo 2020 event

Global employers met with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) at Expo 2020 to talk about how universities can help get students ready to work in a post-pandemic world.

Senior staff from consultancy firms, drinks giants, recruitment and legal experts from across the UAE spoke with staff from DMU at an event held at the UK Pavilion, on the Expo 2020 site.

Over a busy few hours, visitors to the event heard from Adele Brown, DMU’s Head of Graduate Success, from Dr Manjeet Ridon, Provost at DMU Dubai, the university’s new branch campus and Dr Washad Emambocus, Subject Head of Business and Law and Associate Professor Employability) at DMU Dubai.

They were joined by a variety of international guests from UAE business and over the course of the day, the debate rethought the definition of employability, considering the key role played by soft skills and how they play a crucial role in getting students ready for work.

The ability to demonstrate a good work ethic, compassion, understanding diversity, emotional intelligence, as well as being able to value and appreciate differences were some examples of soft skills which employers listed they were actively seeking in potential hires.

They emphasize the importance of adopting a growth mindset and resilience in a post-pandemic world with the desire to continuously learn and adapt a priority.

Noor Salman, Associate Director, Environment and Sustainability at management consultancy firm WSP Global, gave students advice on how to future-proof their degree.

She spoke about how learning about the current pressing issues and future challenges in one’s industry was key to staying relevant, along with being proactive to stay well connected through networking, meeting industry experts and applying for internships.

DMU highlighted its employability strategy and Internship Preparation Program where sustainability and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are not just taught in curriculums but also addressed collectively by students from different courses to understand it from different perspectives.

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Dr Ridon said engagement with sustainability was now one of the key factors employers were looking to at students.

She said: “Equipping students with the knowledge and understanding, skills and attributes needed to work and live in a way that safeguards environmental, social and economic wellbeing, both in the present and for future generations is the need of the hour.

“Sustainability needs to be embedded into every degree and is no longer limited to environmentally focused ones, said Manjeet Ridon, DMU Dubai Provost.

The conference also highlighted The Great Resignation – a series of mass resignations across US firms in 2021 – and its impact on student employability, and how this has led to companies being more open about diversity, equity and inclusion and offering flexible and remote opportunities.

DMU is a founding partner of the UK Pavilion, which is run by the Department for International Trade and this is the latest in a string of events and research showcases the university has held in the Pavilion since Expo 2020 began in October.

Posted on Wednesday 9th February 2022

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