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Graduate Employability: Key Principles for a University Wide Approach

Lisa Taylor, Associate Dean of Employability at University of East Anglia shares her thoughts on a university wide approach to employability:

To further explore graduate skills and employability join the Office for Students (OfS) , Advance HE, HSBC and others at the Graduate Employability Conference 2020 on 24th June 2020 in Central London.

A whole institution approach to employability can be perceived as difficult due to the diverse range of courses available and their unique challenges that they present around employability. However, there are key principles of employability that can be applied to any course or discipline, but still supporting an individual approach.

  1. Employability starts from day one and students should be encouraged to consider employability as an integral part of their studies.
  2. Every student counts – and this is crucial from a student view point to feel that they have an individualised approach to employability as well as from a metric point of view – within health related courses for example a drop of 1 student being recorded positively can impact significantly on league table positions.
  3. Students need to take ownership of their own employability with support from academics in an authentic way that is meaningful to themselves as individuals.
  4. Employability is frequently already within the curriculum and the challenge is often extracting employability from within the curriculum and making it explicit rather than “embedding” employability.
  5. Employability is relevant and has impact within all of the business of HEIs, from admissions, teaching and learning – through to graduation and beyond and collaborative working between all areas is essential between all parties.
  6. With a changing work landscape – close working with employers is essential to ensure that students are aware and being prepared to have the flexibility to adapt to a changing landscape.
  7. Employability is a lifelong journey – and does not end at the point of graduation – students need to be prepared for career planning and development.

The principles above need to be considered within an ethos of employability being a lifelong journey and not a destination (Taylor, 2016)  so that there can be a whole institution adoption but enabling an individual approach at a local level. Having an authentic and individual approach for student employability will maximise engagement which in turn will look after the metrics!

Taylor L (2016) How to develop your healthcare career – a guide to employability and professional development Wiley Blackwell