Embedding Employability in Education: Conference resources

Produced by Ruth Pilkington
University of Central Lancashire and ESCalate
Description ESCalate sponsored Employability Conference @ UCLan: ‘Embedding Employability in Education’ 2nd June 2009

Employability has acquired a central role within policy, strategy and the student curriculum in HE. Education Studies is often automatically with linked with specific vocations such as a career in teaching or with the social care profession but are there wider employability messages we could be emphasising? Should Education Studies embed the wider aspects of employability in their curriculum?

This one-day conference in June 2009 explored how Employability can be engaged with across the Education Studies curriculum in HE. The conference provided an opportunity for academics in Education Studies and the Social Sciences to discuss and share approaches, models and to evaluate potential approaches to giving Employability and Employer involvement a greater role in shaping the curriculum.

For an overview of this Conference, download the Conference programme and Conference aims documents.

The one day Employability Conference was opened by Bede Mullen, Director of Employability and Enterprise at University of Central Lancashire. He introduced some of the wide-ranging activity taking place at UCLan and also highlighted the important role Employability and Enterprise have to play within future developments for the sector.

Keynote: Ray Land, Professor of HE and Director of the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement at the University of Strathclyde.

Ray Land presented a fascinating keynote on issues of threshold concepts linked to employability. His presentation began with a discussion of the new HE context emphasising the chaotic environment of the world today and its impact on the HE curriculum and the nature of graduates. He then explored concepts of employability: ‘liminality’ in particular prompted us to reconsider the way students have to engage with knowledge and the impact of curriculum on graduate skills; Ray also explores how employability skills can be perceived as ‘threshold concepts’; more particularly he looked at issues of research and the HE experience and the role of research as a learning process and an aspect of employability can be considered. For him, research was a major ‘employability skill’ or graduate attribute which provides a tool for graduates to respond to the complexity of the world beyond and within HE. Challenging, thought provoking and stimulating, Ray’s opening keynote set an important note for the conference to explore: namely, the idea of employability as having a genuine impact upon the way we conceive of the HE undergraduate curriculum and student progression within it.

Ray’s PowerPoint is available to download.

Roundtable 1 – Tools and Strategies

This roundtable introduced participants to some of the tools and strategies that have been used for embedding employability within the HE curriculum. Invited speakers from Sheffield Hallam University CETL (e3i) introduced their approach to embedding employability, followed by speakers from the UCLan CETL (ceth) and the Futures team – all have developed models for identifying and incorporating employability in the HE curriculum.

SHU introduced an overview of their tools and interventions to embed employability across the whole institution using organisational change mechanisms and recognition tools. It has involved different faculties in developing discipline specific approaches to embedding and enhancing employability across the student curriculum.

The SHU PowerPoint: The challenge of Embedding and Enhancing employability in the curriculum is available to download.
Email the cetl for further information at: cetle3i@shu.ac.uk

The UCLan ceth focused in their presentation on the embedding of employability within Humanities and Social Sciences using a curriculum mapping tool which identifies a series of 14 employability skills groups. The mapping tool flexibly addresses curriculum issues as capability building from a subject perspective and can be sued by staff, students and employers.

The ceth PowerPoint: ceth Employability is available for download.

The next presentation by Ruth Pilkington showed how the ceth model was used by the School of Education and Social Sciences to establish perspectives of all stakeholders on the current state of employability development. It is being applied within Education at UCLan to develop and engage students, graduates, employers and staff in a collaborative exploration of the education curriculum and how to build in employability skills in a progressive and meaningful way.

The Ruth Pilkington PowerPoint: Employability and the Education Curriculum is available for download.

Finally, FUTURES introduced their model, ‘a key to employability’ which is being used to support generic and subject approaches to employability development across UCLan. This emerged from development work using Yorke & Knight’s USEM Model. The work has informed the creation of a suite of generic modules leading to a university award in employability and career development.

The FUTURES powerpoint is available for download.

The work at SHU, the ceth and in the Education team at UCLan were a focus for the 3 afternoon workshops, at which participants were invited to look in more detail at the processes and materials being used within the curriculum emerging from the three approaches: ceth, SHU and in Education. Participants and interested readers can explore materials by downloading the materials listed below. In each case there is a mixture of power points and handouts (activities) to explore. If you wish to explore this in further detail with workshop leaders, then please contact the following:

HFDay@uclan.ac.uk for ceth materials and the ‘Employability Framework’

Materials included the ceth framework and activities
Ceth EF 2009: the framework
Ceth EF Guidance 2009
Ceth EF TAP 2009: a curriculum activity

RMHPilkington@uclan.ac.uk for the case study showing how Education Studies has adapted and adopted the ceth tool.

Education & Employability: Employer needs and education

Education & Employability Tasks: Employability reflection tasks for students

Education jobs Wheel – graduate employment: jobs in education

Employability in Education Conference Workshop Slides

D.Fitzgerald@shu.ac.uk or J.A.Waldcock@shu.ac.uk for the Sheffield Hallam materials and approach to embedding employability.

SHU's Employability Audit – a reflective tool for students to explore employability skills

SHU's Employability Framework 2009 pdf

SHU's PowerPoint: Embedding Employability in Course Curricula

SHU's Workshop Activity

Roundtable 2 - Stakeholder Perspectives

After lunch, the first session involved a roundtable at which a number of perspectives from stakeholders were produced. Employers from Sure Start, LLUK and students from UClan and Education talked about their perspective of employability and Education graduates.

Angela Berryman, Strategy and Policy Advisor for FHE for Lifelong Learning UK, introduced their perspective on employability for further and higher education.

Heather Holden of Surestart spoke about the work of Surestart and the need for employable graduates, as well as the development of new qualification routes for those working in childcare and Surestart. Her message was that qualifications do matter, with confidence, autonomy, credibility and autonomy, as well as reflection and a values-informed stance being key employability outcomes for her sector.

The Sure Start PowerPoint is available to download.

Karen Quinn, a Graduate from Education, reflected on her journey into employment at Ulverston Victoria High School in the Lakes. She asked whether her degree in Education Studies had contributed to her employability, and the resounding message for the audience and herself was ‘Too right it has!’

The Karen Quinn PowerPoint is available to download.

Finally, a graduate Intern, Dean Marshall, who worked for the Education team in their Employability investigations and designed an employer database to hold the School’s Employer links, gave a presentation on his perspective of Employability in Education Subjects and the clear messages he and his fellow interns discovered about student perceptions of employability. His presentation highlighted that there were some significant and unexpected gaps in what students felt they gained from their study. He also reflected on the value of working as an intern to him in his own individual development of employability skills and confidence.

The Dean Marshall PowerPoint is available to download.

Roundtable 3

The final session of the day returned to curriculum embedding of employability, and an interesting case study in History. Geoff Timmins showed how a single subject at UCLan had built in employability in a way that progressively developed skills and employability sympathetically to the needs and nature of the subject.

The History & Employability at UCLan PowerPoint is available to download.

Ray Land, Jeff Waldcock and Helen Day again returned to the table to respond to questions and a lively discussion ensued on some of the challenges and hidden hurdles of incorporating employability, with participants making the most of the audience’s and presenters’ experience and shared expertise.