For modern students, employability is a word they will hear throughout their educational journey. Making yourself employable, as well as learning the essential skills that prepare you for your future profession, can no longer be treated as an add-on to one’s education. That’s why at UKCBC we host several events each year with the sole aim of providing insight into landing a role after graduation.

The latest skills and employability conference, held on Friday 12 May, saw a host of internal and external guest speakers provide students with valuable insight into various industries. Today we look at the afternoon highlights of the seminar, starting with Riaz Bhatti, Financial & VAT Accountant for Scholz Holding, with a session on how to get ahead in accounting. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the morning highlights post.

Riaz Bhatti, Financial & VAT Accountant

For Riaz, specialising in a particular accounting technology can offer students a great way to stand out from their peers. “Get an expert level of knowledge in an accountancy software, or you’ll look very similar to other applicants,” he suggested. The good news is that, due to the dynamic and challenging nature of the role, talented accountants are in high demand.

The challenge for modern accountants, as Riaz mentions, is that learning from course books can only teach you so much. It’s key for students to assess the skills they need in order to be considered for their preferred role. The preparation for professional life must start early, and supplementary study is essential to becoming an expert. Riaz told the students: “Focus on the challenges and prepare yourself from day one. Don’t just focus on what the books can teach you.”

Ultimately, practice makes perfect; Riaz finished the speech with a final reiteration on the importance of gaining experience, “The more we do, the more we learn.”

Franklin Onukwaghu, University Lecturer

Next, we move on to university lecturer, Franklin Onukwagha, with a very personal speech on how, with the right motivation, anyone can succeed. For Franklin, focus is essential to success; having a very clear idea of what you want to do is the first big step to achieving your goal: “If you don’t know what you want to do in five years’ time, then what are you doing here?” said Franklin. His message to the students was that if they kept their end goal in mind, each decision they take will benefit their long-term aspirations.

Franklin told himself he would become a lecturer and he is now doing so, as well as studying for a PhD. The key that unlocked the door to his dream role was experience. Franklin told the students, “The UK employment system requires experience – you need to be ready and prepared to do what it takes.” From the very beginning, Franklin was willing to give what was necessary to succeed: “I said to myself: ‘I’m ready to volunteer.’ Are you willing to sacrifice to get where you need to be?” he asked the audience. The message from the workshop was clear: find what you want and work towards it.

June Dennis, UKCBC Principal

Lastly, UKCBC Principal, June Dennis spoke at length about the value of applying critical thinking skills when considering your future. Echoing the previous speakers, June commented that students should “start thinking about where you want to go and create an action plan to stay focused.” Indeed, picking an ideal role is a challenge in itself, which is why June suggested “asking the people around you what they think you should do. Often others see something in you that you don’t see yourself.”

It’s certainly useful to get a variety of opinions regarding where your skills lie. However, if your chosen role doesn’t quite match with the skill set you’ve cultivated, what’s the next step?

“Look and concentrate on the particular skills needed to move into the role you want. And if you don’t have the skills the role requires, use your action plan. Ask yourself ‘how do I get that skill?’” said June. “Focusing on what skills you need to obtain is just as important as addressing your weaknesses,” said June. Not addressing the areas that need improvement could be the difference between landing your dream role and missing out.

The final part of the day saw June comment on how to approach the next stage in education, should students wish to continue on to degree level study.

“It’s important to look at which environment fits your needs and understand what the course requires. That could mean joining the third-year of a university course, or studying a top-up specific course,” said June.

The change from studying an HND to an undergraduate degree can be challenging for some:

“Be aware that to do well in the third year of a degree course you will need to supplement the knowledge you gained from your HND. The teaching style could be vastly different from what you’re used to, as well as the types of assessments you will need to complete.”

Check out our Morning Highlights post

That wraps up our afternoon highlights from UKCBC’s Skills and Employability Conference. Be sure to check out our events page for updates on upcoming events, including future employability conferences. We’ve also created a brief roundup of the morning highlights of the employability conference where students were given insights into the benefits of volunteering, and personal branding.

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