Some general tips on supporting employability include:
Learning Environment: Consider how employability is built into the curriculum. Look at the activities you have developed. Can they be organised in such a way as to increase the chances of students developing those employability and enterprise skills that employers are searching for. Also encourage your students to get involved in work placements, and gain further work experience where possible. Assessment
: Think about the associated employability assessment strategy, and how this can be linked to the students' reflective process, particularly the development of the PDP.
Personal Development Planning: PDP allows students to build a portfolio of achievements that can act as a resource-bank which, when appropriately used, can help a graduate in their search for employment and to articulate their attributes. Students should be encouraged to reflect on their skills and experiences including those gained through study, prior part-time and full-time work, and through extra-curricular activities such as volunteering.
An effective PDP will provide the following:
- Guidance that addresses generic learning and study needs
- Guidance on how to address subject-specific learning needs
- Guidance on career planning and job seeking
- Support for, and guidance on making and maintaining portfolios that will sustain strong claims to employability.
Employer Engagement: where possible try and involve employers in the design, delivery and review process of your activities. Invite employers in as guest speakers; ask them to talk through their career history, giving tips on career development.
Engaging with Alumni: try and invite past students and Alumni into your activities and sessions. Find out what their experiences have been since leaving university and what tips they could offer current students about looking for and securing employment.
Graduate Destinations: do you know where your past students go onto? Regularly monitor the information on graduate destinations for your particular course.
Careers Service Supoprt: maintain contact and build relationships with the Careers Service team. Each academic group now has a dedicated linked Careers Adviser who is there to support your students, and where possible, deliver a range of skills development sessions.
Networking: try and maintain and develop your own links with professionals, employers and other relevant agencies and professional bodies. Encourage them to get involved in your activities within the University.
Induction: encourage your students to think about their career planning activities from day one. Try and build a careers-related activity into the induction programme.
Promotion: always try to promote the success stories. if your graduates move on into successful jobs, ensure that prospective and current students and staff are aware of it.
Encouraging Students to Self Reflect
It is important for academic staff to take the opportunity to make plain the parallels between academic and work place tasks, as students do not always appreciate the connection. Many will have had (and will continue to have) experience of working full and part-time or in a voluntary capacity. Students need to understand the relationship between these experiences and how they can support their own employability.
A simple way of encouraging self-reflection is for staff to undertake a short questionnaire (see possible questions below). This is quite simple to set up and could be completed on-line with a direct link to the PDP.
Questions to ask your students!
- What employment relevant skills have you used today? (e.g.discussion, argument, negotiation, group writing, interpersonal communication).
- What elements of this activity could you talk about in an interview? What were the most difficult elements and how did you overcome them?
- Where could you have improved on the result / outcome? What stopped you doing better at the time?
- How has the activity developed your knowledge and skills?
- How could you make the most of this experience in an interview / application?
- How will what you have learnt in ths activity influence the way you tackle future challenges?
- Was your input proportional to the value of the project? Was your time well used?
- What risks did you take to achieve your aims? Were they worth taking?
(Source: Pedagogy for Employability; HEA, ESECT Series)