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Honesty and Learning Ability are Key Competences for Spanish Employers

The contribution of universities to the development of social and economic welfare within a country is one of the basic pillars for its competitiveness and growth. However, the knowledge society and globalization urge the universities to face the constant challenges of adaptation to society, hence the future skills for social development.

The III edition of University-Business Ranking, presented at the end of 2017 by Everis Foundation, analyzes the opinion of 3.545 Human Resources managers of Spain on the skills of recent graduates. The study provides an insight for all stakeholders into how the universities adapt to the reality of the Spanish labor market.

In particular, each year, the competences of the students are analyzed, understood as key skills for the development of the work. In all the editions of the study, the hiring managers of the companies have been asked about the importance of eight competences in relation to performance: teamwork, interpersonal skills and communication, technical knowledge of the profession, honesty and ethical commitment, ability to learning, analysis and resolution of conflicts, orientation to results and ability to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary environment.

The main conclusions in terms of contracting highlight that, as happened last year, about a third of Spanish companies have hired some recent graduates in the last five years. The size of the company has a direct impact on the recruitment rate of graduates: the percentage of companies that have recently hired graduates increases as the size of the company increases. That is, 25.3% of the companies between 10 and 19 employees have hired a recent graduate, while 85.4% of the companies with more than 1,000 employees have done so. It highlights the case of companies with 50 to 99 employees, which register a significant increase in hiring compared to the previous year with 52.2%, almost seven points above the results of the last edition. Between the companies of 100 to 499 workers, the level of hiring goes from 62.5% to 65.9% in this edition.

The most outstanding activities in terms of new hires are Education; Health activities and social services; and Information and communication. In concrete, in comparative terms, the sector with the most hiring has been Education, which reached 59.4% in relation to the 50.5% obtained in 2016. The sector of Health activities and social services is in second place, surpassing the results of last year and reaching 54.0% of contracting companies. The third place is occupied by the Information and communications sector, with 53.8% of companies that hire newly graduates, losing the second position with respect to the previous year.

The mobility of recent graduates continues in line with the previous year. Most universities obtain more than three quarters of their demands from companies in the same region. 81.7% of the graduates evaluated work in the same region in which they studied.

The eight analyzed competences are valued as very important by the hiring managers of the firms, which grant all of them a weight of more than 7.9 points out of 10. Once again, and as happened in the past editions, the ethical and honesty commitment is the most relevant competence for employers.

As it is shown in the figure, the three most relevant competences for hiring managers of Spanish companies have been maintained in all three editions. Two others, also present in the top 5 this year, complete the set of skills most relevant to employers:

  • Honesty and ethical commitment reaches 8.97, a result very similar to that obtained in the past two editions.
  • The ability to learn and adapt to change achieves an average score of 8.75 points.
  • Teamwork maintains its third place with an 8.61, two tenths above the last edition and practically the same as in 2015.
  • The interpersonal skills and the ability to analyze and solve problems obtained practically the same results, 8.3, being in fourth and fifth place.

Considerations about competencies have different levels of importance depending on two variables: the size of the company and its main activity sector. In this sense, the competence of Honesty and ethical commitment is considered essential in most companies. In all company sizes, the importance assigned to this competition is close to 9. Furthermore, 73.4% of companies of this size, from 500 to 999 workers, consider it an indispensable value among its employees.

Regarding the analysis by sector of activity, Honesty and ethical commitment stands out in all of them, with an assigned relevance of more than 8.8 in all cases. Health and social activities highlight with an attributed importance of 9.36 points. In addition, this competence is qualified as indispensable by 82.1% of the companies in this sector.

Human Resources managers declare that those hired do not reach the performance of the competencies expected by the employers. Even so, the skills of recent graduates are valued above 7.4 points, achieving a slight but positive evolution of the competences throughout the three years of the Ranking.

As in importance, honesty and ethical commitment is the best valued competition. On the other hand, the capacity of analysis and the resolution of problems presents the valuation further away from the expectation of those responsible for hiring.

It should be noted that the least relevant competence for hiring managers, the ability to work in multicultural and multidisciplinary environments, is the best satisfied by recent graduates. Regarding the most demanded degrees, they are still Administration and Business Management and Engineering, surpassing 50% of the hiring between them.

Thus, those responsible for contracting companies in Spain are focused on selecting professionals who, in addition to the specific knowledge of their task, have important skills or abilities in the business world. These skills demonstrate the relevance of the educational process, especially in the university field, in adapting to the job market that students can achieve.


We thank Spanish Chamber of Commerce for providing the content for this blog article.

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