Employers Want More Grads With Leadership & Social Impact Skills: Survey

Employers Want More Grads With Leadership & Social Impact Skills: Survey

Employers are increasingly looking for university graduates who can demonstrate social impact and leadership skills, the Global Employability University Ranking and Survey (GEURS) 2023-24 reveals.

The GEURS, produced by data collected by French consultancy Emerging and published with Times Higher Education, Poets&Quants‘ parent company, shows employers want graduates that will be more involved in society and can transform organizations, thereby growing their country’s economy. These qualities are particularly sought from graduates from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and also appears as top five requirements for all countries in the survey, and also those studying business, engineering and IT.

The data shows employers are also looking for graduates with digital skills and studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. This is evident in the ranking with the first two positions taken up by tech schools: California Institute of Technology, which tops the table, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in second. In addition, 40% of the top 50 positions are taken up by tech schools too.

The ability to work in a team, as well as a cooperative spirit, are highly prized by employers in all countries, which are skills consistent with the collaborative and socially engaged mindset linked to the social impact and leadership skill.

GEURS assesses the employability performance of higher education institutions and is the only ranking and survey to reveal the world’s top 250 universities for producing employable graduates based on employers’ assessment, knowledge and expectations. For this new edition, 100,700 votes were canvassed from 11,560 operational and international managers in 21 countries.

The survey shows, yet again, the increasing globalization of higher education employability, which is most noticeable when looking at the changes over the past 10 years with US and UK universities making up more than 58% of universities in 2013 whereas, this year, they represent just 27.5%.

Asia has 49 institutions in the top 250, five more than last year which represents the largest continental increase with China and India being the only countries to show real progress in the rankings.

Top 10 universities in the Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2023-24

University Country Rank 2023-24 Rank 

last year

California Institute of Technology USA 1 2
Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA 2 1
Stanford University USA 3 5
University of Cambridge UK 4 4
Harvard University USA 5 3
Princeton University USA 6 9
The University of Tokyo Japan 7 7
University of Oxford UK 8 6
National University of Singapore Singapore 9 8
Yale University USA 10 10
Source: Global Employability University Ranking and Survey (GEURS)

Chinese universities are continuing to climb up and consolidate their position in the top echelons of the ranking with Peking University knocking on the door of a top 10 place (14th) and Tsinghua University (21st) also in the top 30.

Indian universities, which were under-represented given the country’s size and population, are now making steady progress and the increase in the number of votes they received this year is significant.

Universities from Asia that dropped down due to the pandemic are recovering this year and are climbing back up the table which is most evident in Hong Kong, as well as Japan.

America’s Ivy League universities are still considered the best in the world; in addition, US universities specializing in digital and STEM subjects, such as Arizona State University and Florida Institute of Technology, are doing well, too. However, overall the country’s universities are continuing to lose ground, as they have for the last five years, to the rest of the world.

“The data behind the ranking provides some absolutely fascinating nuggets about the shifting sands in global higher education regarding graduates’ employability,” says Sandrine Belloc, Emerging’s Managing Partner. ”Most notable this year are the significant improvements in higher education employability in India, which we should look out for over the upcoming years as all indicators show it improving at a rapid rate.

“The data also indicates Chinese universities are set to increase their presence even further, with at least one university reaching the top 10 in the next few years.

“The panorama of US universities in the ranking has changed considerably over the last 10 years on the topic of employability but the number and quality of US universities is still high and every year we can observe the ability of some universities to bounce back spectacularly.

“In Europe, I’d like to draw attention on the number of votes cast for German universities which places Germany in third place, replacing the UK, whose higher education has seen a marked decline since Brexit. And I also suggest keeping a close look at Spanish higher education, with a growing number of world-class institutions in the ranking.”

US and UK institutions take up 12 of the top 20 places and other elite universities have maintained their positions with notable performances from the University of Tokyo at 7th the University of Toronto (12th), Technical University of Munich (13th) and ETH Zurich (15th).

Universities that experienced significant improvements in the ranking include University of Chicago which moved up 41 places to 49th, Zhejiang University which moved up 24 places to 88th, Dartmouth College which moved up 14 places to 60th and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay which moved up 10 places to 62nd.

Universities from the Middle East North Africa region  have gone from having no representatives in 2011 to steadily expanding to 12 and are consolidating their position in the ranking this year. There are 19 new entrants this year compared with last year – a symbol of higher education’s dynamism.

Top 10 countries in the Global Employability University Ranking and Survey 2023-24

Country Rank 2023-24 Number of unis 2023-24 Number of Unis compared with last year Number of votes 2023-24 Score 2023-24
US 1 51 -5 21,566 21.41%
France 2 19 +1 8,556 8.49%
Germany 3 19 +2 7,680 7.62%
UK 4 13 -1 6,218 6.17%
China 5 13 +2 5,560 5.52%
Canada 6 11 +1 4,530 4.50%
Australia 7 9 0 3,940 3.91%
Japan 8 9 +1 3,655 3.63%
Switzerland 9 7 0 3,484 3.46%
South Korea 10 7 -1 3,442 3.42%
Source: Global Employability University Ranking and Survey (GEURS)

“The research shows the key skills employers are increasingly looking for and this year it’s fascinating to see social impact and leadership is the key skill they’re looking for,” says Seeta Bhardwa, Editor, THE Student. “It shows how employers want graduates that can make a significant contribution not only to their company but also to the wider community and the country too.”

  • View the full GEURS table on THE’s website here
  • View the full table on Emerging’s website here
  • View the methodology here.

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