Students’ primary reason for entering higher education is to improve their employability. However it is true to say that “a degree is no longer enough” Recruiters are increasingly looking for ‘work ready’ graduates with clear evidence of job specific skills in addition to academic attributes. To have a competitive advantage in the job market, students need to have developed their employability through their time at college.
However “employability” is not the same as simply getting a job. Rather it is about the capacity to function successfully in a role and to be able to move between occupations during one’s life. It is clear that students who make an effort to participate fully in the total student experience [academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, work experience] benefit from a well-rounded education, contribute to the life of the college community, and hopefully have some fun in the process!
Innovative teaching, learning and assessment play a part in this. They help students engage in their education and also help them to develop skills which are attractive to potential employers. Furthermore, students’ interest is more likely to be maintained if they can see the relevance of their studies to their future careers and life beyond college. The most employable students are ones who have:
- a good academic record
- understanding of the work for which they are applying
- can demonstrate a range of the transferable generic skills such as communication, team work, leadership & working independently
- evidence of previous work experience
The College can help with this. It is clear that students value information from employers on the specific requirements they look for in relation to skills and experience. They are also receptive to learning from recent graduates and alumni who are working in their chosen field of employment. These sessions focus on:
- providing employability advice support
- providing students with ways of recording evidence of work experience
- providing students with ways of recording the acquisition of transferable generic skills
The College can also help by:
- developing early-warning systems to identify those students who may not be fully engaged
- encouraging students to obtain relevant experience through placements
- raising awareness of opportunities within small & medium-sized enterprises & self-employment
- developing a shared understanding of core & discipline-specific skills, and integrate employability skills into the curriculum.