Promising Practices for Developing Essential Employability Qualities

In the 2017-18 academic year, The QA Commons partnered with 27 programs from 14 colleges and universities to co-design the Essential Employability Qualities Certification. As a result of our work together, we identified several programmatic and institutional promising practices to support students’ development of these qualities. Below are brief descriptions of these promising practices.

Employability is the 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.

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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.

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Student Records

  • 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.

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Employer Engagement

  • 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.

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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.

More on Developing employABILITY Thinking: An Australian Initiative Going Global

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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.

Our gratitude to Dawn for being willing to partner with us and to connect the employABILITY resources with The QA Commons work on Essential Employability Qualities and the EEQ CERT. 

Developing Employability: A Beyond-Disciplinary Transformative Approach to Higher and Postsecondary Education

The QA Commons recently co-presented with Jeff King from University of Central Oklahoma and Niesha Ziehmke from Charles and Stella Guttman Community College (two of our 27 EEQ CERT co-design partners) about the EEQ CERT co-design process and transformative learning at the 2018 Transformative Learning Conference, March 8 and 9, 2018, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Here are our slides:

 

And HERE is the extended abstract of our presentation.

Enjoy!