One of the key education challenges for the UK is to develop a more highly skilled workforce which can compete in an increasingly competitive global market (Leitch Review 2006). Many universities and colleges are increasingly concerned to demonstrate that their courses can enhance a student’s future employment prospects.
Employability is a key area for Jisc moving forward and has already been the subject of significant investment through projects funded by the Jisc BCE programme and other areas of Jisc. This, in addition to work by Jisc Services to produce resources has resulted in useful outputs relating to the use of technology in improving employability:
This project (Co-genT) exploited the use of technology to support the co-generation of academic curricula by employers and academics, in particular, by embedding graduate attributes and employment-related skills within an institutional pedagogic framework, the Gloucestershire Shell Framework, for the creation of demand-led continuing professional development (CPD) and degree courses.
Shared architecture for employer, student & organisational networking (SAMSON)
The University of Nottingham piloted a low-cost technical infrastructure to support postgraduate students going into companies on placements, and employees entering universities to study for continuing professional development (CPD).
Students FIRST explored the impact of a unique and innovative way of delivering student bursaries at two universities. Eligible students were issued with SMART cards that carry credit to purchase learning tools in place of cash bursaries. The targeted bursary specifically enhanced the student’s learning and teaching and improved employability prospects, thereby enhancing the student experience.
AGENT – Alumni Growth and Engagement across New Technologies
The Jisc AGENT project at Brunel University used social media for mentoring with the focus being on employability. Using Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter subject specific groups were set up for current students and alumni to join
Alumni sign up as a mentor, with current students as mentees, bringing in the past experience of Alumni at the institution together with their current experiences as working graduates for the benefit of students.
Jisc e-Portfolios infoKit
This comprehensive resource provides advice and guidance, including case studies, on the use of e-Portfolios in education. There is a specific section on Employability in Skills, which describes how e-Portfolios are a way of demonstrating evidence of ‘softer skills’ to employers, such as teamwork and communication skills. There are also case study examples from Newham College and Birmingham City University.
The Glamorgan ePortfolios project aimed to explore the feasiblity of using an e-portfolio (Campus Pack) to enhance students’ employability skills. The project linked with the University’s Grad Edge strategy, which encourages students to undertake and reflect on a wide range of work-related activities to improve their chances of gaining graduate employment.
The project outcomes indicate that staff, students and employers view e-portfolios as beneficial in terms of improving employability and this will continue to be promoted in the future.
Employability will continue to be of importance to Jisc its future activities. Keep an eye on this blog for news on future work.