USI President rejects criticism of graduates

USI President John Logue has hit out at comments made by the Irish boss of the world’s biggest payment firm, PayPal, who stated graduate employees carry a sense of entitlement and are not hungry enough to succeed in the workplace.

Louise Phelan, who heads up the Irish arm of the online payments company, described last week how “a number of graduates don’t seem to understand how to carry themselves in a workplace, but more importantly don’t show an interest in learning how to do it”.

However Logue rejected remarks and said Phelan’s comments “seem to be based almost entirely on anecdotal evidence and hearsay, with no reference whatsoever to research carried out in this area”.

“Overwhelming evidence suggests that Irish graduates are not lazy”, he said, pointing to an employers’ survey carried out by the Higher Education Authority last year which found that 70% of employers are confident Irish graduates have the right attitude when applying for entry-level positions. Of those surveyed, 75% also stated that graduates arrive with a high level of transferrable skills.

“If we want to debate the quality of our graduates then we should be equipped with the facts to do so and the ability to take responsibility for our own actions in this regard”, Logue said.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s John Murray Show, she suggested that while graduates may have academic achievements, they lack experience” and are not streetwise. She went on to reveal that 60 per cent of PayPal employees are non-graduates, saying “once you have the right competencies and skills we’ll pay you accordingly, whether you’re a graduate or not”.

Texts read out by John Murray during the course of the interview indicated Phelan is not alone in holding these views. One came in from a lecturer, Pat Mooney, saying “I have to agree totally. Eighty per cent of students are clueless… they have no knowledge of the world, all they know is what their friends are doing on Facebook”.

When asked why some graduates feel it’s acceptable, for example, to put their feet up on office desks while working, Phelan suggested it may be because “they grew up in the boom and didn’t have to work hard at that stage”.

“We will try and coach them along the way, but to me that’s parenting, that’s not business coaching”, she said.

PayPal currently employ 1,800 people in Ireland and will take on an additional 300 new recruits before the end of the year. Phelan is underwhelmed by the standard of some CVs she has received. “A number of graduates have sent us a generic CV with a generic letter applying for a specific job”, she said.

Sarah Bermingham

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