With millions of pages online devoted to graduate employability, it’s clearly an important issue for universities. Adam Campbell from ME+ goes in search of common ground among the commentators, and asks what more can universities do to help students into work?
At the time of writing, a Google search for ‘improving graduate employability’ returns over 12.4 million results. It doesn’t take too much digging to see that many of the pages, articles and soundbites tread the same ground. So let’s start by summarising the main points we all seem to agree on.
Employability is an important and valued part of the experience students want.
The best strategies start early and are embedded in the curriculum.
Student learning experiences should connect with employers through placements, projects and so on.
Teaching should focus on, and develop, both technical and soft skills.
University programmes should be mapped against key career and skills outcomes.
Incubation and links with startups and SMEs should be provided.
Students pay most attention to the voices of employers and former students.
Student development and support processes should have employability built in.
This advice definitely chimes with what we’ve learned from working extensively with a range of universities and graduate employers. But something’s missing. To take graduate employability to the next level, universities need to be asking themselves a few more searching questions.
How do we establish and engender a mindset in all academic and support staff that truly inspires and enables student career success?
How do we create a fertile and safe space for students to explore, shape and share their own vision of a successful career?
How do we encourage and develop the core elements that underpin career success (ambition/drive, growth mindset/resilience, relationship building and disciplined action)?
How do we leverage technology to design, connect, deliver and measure progress, engagement, experience?
These questions represent the key challenges facing universities who are seeking to improve student experiences and employability – and we’ll be developing a series of blog posts to take an in-depth look at each of the core issues they raise. For now, this is a great place to start.
This blog post was written by the career experts behind ME+ (the career management app from Telos Partners). ME+ is free for individual students. See what ME+ can do for universities at me-plus.co.uk.
This is the first in our blog series on Developing Student Employability.