Ruth Bridgstock(2009)The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: enhancing graduate employability through career management skills,Higher Education Research & Development,28:1,31-44,DOI: 10.1080/07294360802444347
Abstract: Recent shifts in education and labour market policy have resulted in universities being placed under increasing pressure to produce employable graduates. However, contention exists regarding exactly what constitutes employability and which graduate attributes are required to foster employability in tertiary students. This paper argues that in the context of a rapidly changing information‐ and knowledge‐intensive economy, employability involves far more than possession of the generic skills listed by graduate employers as attractive. Rather, for optimal economic and social outcomes, graduates must be able to proactively navigate the world of work and self‐manage the career building process. A model of desirable graduate attributes that acknowledges the importance of self‐management and career building skills to lifelong career management and enhanced employability is presented. Some important considerations for the implementation of effective university career management programs are then outlined.
Employabilityisthe ability to find, create and sustain work and learning across lengthening working lives and multiple work settings.
EEQ Development & Assessment
Degree programs intentionally designed to develop, address, and assess expected EEQ exit proficiencies so there is assurance that all students will graduate from the program fully prepared.
Applied research projects designed to addresses real problems in a partner employer’s organizations.
Course-embedded community service projects that allow students to directly apply their learning to real community needs.
Specific assignments designed so that students can learn content while also practicing different EEQs (e.g., written proposals, presentations, team-based formats, etc.).
Experiential learning pathways that allow students to apply their learning in work-relevant situations at several points throughout a program.
Team-based capstone projects situated in workplaces and co-taught with employers.
Classes co-taught with employers; employers involved in directly assessing student work.
Career Development, Planning, and Support
Courses intentionally designed to support students in understanding the world of work and its expectations.
Career development programming integrated across the curriculum and over time, such as embedded career planning activities in courses.
Guest speakers from industries and organizations embedded in courses to engage students in considering industry or organization-specific career possibilities.
A cross-campus integrated approach to career preparedness through civic engagement.
Enhanced student records that convey students’ EEQ development and outcomes in visually accessible and appealing ways.
Competency-based badging practices that communicate students’ abilities in visible, verifiable ways.
Employer engagement models that go well beyond a traditional Advisory Board into authentic partnerships, or even “employer-attached” curriculum and pedagogy (where employers serve as co-faculty and assessors of student work).
Employers and programs working together to develop and test new approaches, such as badging, developing talent pipelines through partnerships, and work-integrated learning modules.
Graduate / Alumni Feedback
Use of findings from well-designed alumni surveys, which address not only program satisfaction but also graduates’ sense of preparedness for employment, graduate employment outcomes, and feedback for program improvement.
Purposeful inclusion of alumni who employ program graduates into advisory boards or other feedback mechanisms.
We’re grateful to our partner programs for their contributions to this work! Read the full EEQ CERT Pilot Finding Report HERE.
The UIDP’s Partnership Continuum (2012) is a way of thinking about how academia and industry can interact for mutual benefit, often in ways which contribute to national growth. The publication was developed by a team of professionals from each of these sectors with the goal of demonstrating the myriad of ways universities and companies interact with one another.
We just added a few new resources to our Resource Library. This one in particular will be of interest to programs and institutions looking to redesign their curricular approach and partner with employers to better address the Essential Employability Qualities in their educational programs.
This report showcases promising practices from the US and UK to suggest a forward looking agenda for education and training, moving from uncertainty to the economic advancement of all learners. Some of the strategies profiled include:
competency-based education, which allows learners to show what they know as soon as they know it and move quickly to the next level;
employer and industry-led models, which radically lower the opportunity costs of education by providing further training on the job;
the latest labor market intelligence tools and techniques, which provide educators with powerful insights into the changing skills marketplace;
dynamic and work-based pedagogy, to instill the critical skills needed for the future of work; and
new pathways and business models that support access and completion for learners at any point in their career and at virtually any income level.
In early June, The QA Commons concluded the Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT) Pilot, in which we partnered with 27 programs from 14 colleges and universities to co-design a new approach to assuring that graduates are prepared for the 21st century world of work. Key aspects of this initiative include addressing quality as well as equity gaps in learning and preparation:
We know that high-quality credentials beyond high school can transform lives — that they open doors to economic opportunity and social mobility and help individuals flourish in a challenging world. But we also know that not everyone who pursues learning beyond high school actually gets a high-quality experience. Too few even get to the finish line and earn a credential. And some who do, still struggle to find employment and succeed in today’s workplace.
Quality Assurance Commons and the EEQs will help address this gap. They also will help institutions make good on an equally urgent promise of closing equity gaps in access to quality experiences and in post-graduation outcomes. QA Commons pilot efforts and other research show that far too few institutions gather and use enough good data on how well their students learn and how they fare after graduation. Moreover, even when collecting data, far too few institutions disaggregate their data to uncover hidden inequities in access to quality experiences — especially across different racial/ethnic groups.
In response to growing interest in teaching “21st century skills” at the postsecondary level, Matt Hora (author of Beyond the Skills Gap) has developed an online 7-week survey course at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies on the topic.
The course is designed to give faculty and instructors an introduction to the research behind four skills – communication, teamwork, self-regulated learning, and critical thinking – and practical tips on how to integrate them into college courses. The course also takes a critical look at the skills discourse surrounding 21st century skills, and emphasizes disciplinary approaches to curriculum design and instruction. Through video-taped lectures, course readings, online annotation, and case study problems, the goal of the course is to help learners transform an existing lesson plan or course syllabus to prominently feature one of the four skills. They hope that the course will be a valuable resource for faculty developers, instructors hoping to improve their teaching, and for anyone interested in skills-related issues.
The employABILITY Initiative is led by Professor Dawn Bennett from Curtin University, Australia. Dawn makes the link between employability and higher education through her work on “employABILITY thinking”: students’ cognitive and social development as capable and informed individuals, professionals, and social citizens. You can read more on this thinking in her recent post.
EmployABILITY educator guides, student resources, and a self-assessment tool are available without charge to all higher education teachers and students. Professor Bennett emphasises that embedding employABILITY thinking in post-secondary classrooms means doing things a little differently, rather than doing more.
Students begin by creating a personalised profile using an online profile tool. Most programs incorporate the profile tool as a required task or reading, or in some cases as an in-class activity. The profile report gives students multiple opportunities to engage with their development and underpins career- and self-development activities in class. Student advisers and teachers can trial the tool by entering ‘test’ where it asks for the student number; Dawn recommends 15 – 20 minutes for this task.
For more information and a short introduction to the model and validated measure, visit the educator website. Registration is quick and will give you access to all resources, events and articles. You can also access the student site to explore the student resources.
Finally, the Australian initiative has established a global LinkedIn community with weekly resources, easy steps and lots of support. Follow these simple steps to get started.