Employability in the Curriculum

Leader(s): Trish Byrne-Roberts
Organisation: University of Central Lancashire
Contact Email: pbyrne-roberts@uclan.ac.uk

The project team:

  • Trish Byrne-Roberts - University of Central Lancashire, School of Education and Social Science
  • Ruth Pilkington - University of Central Lancashire

In June 2009 a one day conference explored how Employability can be engaged with across the Education Studies curriculum in HE. For resources from this event please visit: http://escalate.ac.uk/6127

In April 2011 the project team presented their work at ESCalate's Student Conference on Employability and Enterprise in Education. Resources from this event are available here: http://escalate.ac.uk/8285

There have been two main areas of focus for the project:

1.  A School Employability Forum has been set up to explore employability in education studies and to develop the learning experience and value of opportunities for developing employability skills through creative learning and drawing on Realistic Work Environments employed by the Centre for Employability Teaching in the Humanities (CETH).  

Social Sciences has engaged formally with a selection of employers from police forces, care services and local authorities to present as visiting speakers to students on the Social Sciences degree programme;

Education in the School has established a small focused Employer Forum to explore the Education degree curriculum.  It appears that in response to the initial activity of the project (survey, report and working groups, workshops etc in 2008-9) individual subjects have undertaken activity pro-actively as subjects rather than as a School.  

The findings suggest that a School level Employer Forum may be harder to establish but that links work better situated within the localised subject and degree context.

2.  A series of collaborative workshops have been held, involving employers, students and staff to discuss curriculum issues and the progressive acquisition of employability skills and understandings as well as their assessment.  

The workshops adopted a model of partnership introduced by Pilkington (2004) during the innovations HEFCE funded 'Developing Learning Organisations Project' (DLO) project and currently being used successfully within Arts Humanities & Social Sciences to explore and support issues around transitions with the pre-HE sector.

In 2009-10, the School embedded the Employability agenda at local subject level, informed by the initial project funded study, and pursued localised initiatives regarding contacting employers.

A School Employability Team was set up and meetings have taken place monthly which:

a)  use the CETH and futures curriculum design audit tools to generate a unified tool for detailed curriculum audit;

b)  use school funds to employ research PG student part-time to complete a formal audit of employability at curriculum level.  This complements the earlier student survey and allows the subject teams to individually identify curriculum gaps.

Within Education there is already a placement module that uses shadowing so students can explore employability issues in relation to their study, and a placement module (work-based learning) has been designed for Education incorporating progression.  

However the audit tool will allow specific skills and learning activity to be identified at teaching learning and assessment level for the subject team to develop students understanding and engagement;

c)    PG Student research assistants have developed a student guide to employability in the School curriculum with outcomes from the curriculum audit tool being used for each subject to have specific web pages identifying and communicating with students how employability is engaged with and developed at subject level.