Comparatively little of this is seen in the USA model Figs. Having said as much, ten years ago there were on-going questions around the usefulness of league table results as consumer information and how much such data influenced choices related to what to study and where to study it Hazelkorn R UK : They show employability like how many people are likely to get into a job and the success rate of people getting into certain types of jobs. League tables are representative of a shifting relationship between higher education and students that has become more transactional, founded on consumerist values with practices being increasingly borrowed from the corporate world Tomlinson Students want to know what a degree from a particular institution is worth and institutions are keen to point this out.
Employability has become an investment project, with the measure of success being about how well an individual can match their human capital profile to the labour market demands, which are increasingly difficult to gauge Tholen This also means that a longer-term view is less possible than one that is expectant of immediate results. Graduate employment statistics appear to be less newsworthy in the USA according to participant D. The HEAR called upon students to record their participation in extra- and co-curricular activities, work experiences, voluntary work, enterprise initiatives, positions held within clubs and societies, etc.
Figures 3 , 5 and 6 show how the categories of internships and work experience and awards and schemes feature highly among UK HEIs. The only anomaly is in Fig. Enterprise education is especially interesting here as entrepreneurship, as portrayed through internships and award schemes, has become critical in a global economy, and is seen as being at the heart of national economic growth. It is suggested that it is driven by policy and remains a mostly novel approach to graduate development Henry The take-up of these activities has proved beneficial and, according to recent research, students and graduates themselves feel that they gain most from work experience opportunities than from any other type of employability strategy Kinash et al.
Many HEIs are also developing award schemes to promote extra-curricular employment and life-wide learning Jackson In the UK there seems to be an increasing push towards identifying explicit activities and opportunities through which students develop their employability; these extra- and co-curricular activities help students further appreciate and articulate their development in this area. Many universities in the UK-based recent graduates:. M UK : My uni was based in the north so I did a placement year last year so a lot of jobs were available in the north.
But they had a lot of university placements that were paid. I know a lot of people who did those kinds of things because it was convenient to work in the university. We are effectively being called upon to imagine a different notion of curriculum, which perhaps includes social engagement and experiential learning Millican According to Speight et al. A broader description of this learning space encompasses work experience, enterprise education, in-service learning, career management with support from a careers unit Rae , inclusive education and volunteering.
When interviewed, one of the UK-educated recent graduates commented that careers services do indeed take on a substantial responsibility for preparing students to enter the jobs market:. R UK : Careers related service, I agree with that one again. I think mine was quite good. They helped you even if you were in uni and wanted to send out CVs for things like internships in the summer, summer placements, or to even just sort your CV out or anything.
They were quite good like that. By and large, the efforts put in by such units are appreciated by recent graduates as is reflected in the UK data especially Figs. The current approach taken by careers units is itself more rigorous and sophisticated than the gentle nudging towards filling holes reported on by Brown et al. Having said as much, a problem with relying on careers services to do this work if unsupported is that they are often managed within separate structures, resulting in an intense, but fragmented, approach to employability provision Rae Participant S, from a USA HEI commented on a more integrated approach taken by HEIs in the USA highlighting the interplay between careers, the academic department and the employability centre and that it is the relationship between all three groups that fosters graduate employability:.
And they all have different resources. And so, in many ways most students look at all of them, but only really care about some of them. Largely in my opinion because they want that cycle to continue of their ranking and prestige and more students come in. The suggestion is that employability preparation in the USA is more implicit and subsumed than is the case for the UK. Considering the former category, it is important to stress the different type of social model of disability used in the USA as compared with the UK. Harlan Hahn , an American activist and leading authority on disability rights, was influential in creating a model which is socio-political in nature and inclusive, as it simultaneously focuses on the minority-group model.
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In the USA, inclusivity and equality of access are entwined in accordance with Section — part of the rehabilitation act of , which states that if an educational opportunity is available to any student then it must also be made available to students with disabilities Aune ; Jarrow A policy framework is already currently in place that needs to be enacted by HEIs and means that, in effect, there is an emphasis on the broader, social context of higher education in the USA that enables students with disabilities and disadvantaged students to feel supported.
This aspect of employability is mostly utilised by secondary schools rather than higher education in the USA and serves as a mechanism to ensure that students, especially those with disabilities, are aware of the opportunities open to them beyond post compulsory education. With respect to USA-based community-campus relationships, unpaid internships and volunteer work are heavily weighted by potential employers The Chronicle, ; this may account for the fact that funding was made available in the USA through several federal programmes to fuel this initiative.
HEIs in the USA have adopted community-campus partnerships as a constructive mechanism through which their students are able to develop employability skills and serve their community Pasque et al. One of the participants from the USA commented upon the value of these community-campus relationships:.
Embedding employability in the curriculum
As student T implies, in-service learning is recognised as a values-based approach that augments employability skills and capabilities developed elsewhere in the curriculum Kinash et al. The perspective offered by participant T is contrasted with the experience of participant H who studied at a UK-based HEI, and who was less familiar with community-campus partnerships:.
But at the same time my uni is the centre of and is a massive part of the town itself. So even though I may not see it, I think there are links with the town. I might not necessarily have that much of an insight into it. In relation to Figs. A subtle difference can be drawn out here between the Russell Group and Ivy League institutions regarding how these HEIs represent themselves and what they focus on in terms of the employability agenda. This could be attributed to higher education being heavily regulated due to the public funding that is behind student loans, as is the case for the UK compared with self-governing HEIs, and as is the case for the USA mentioned earlier.
Additionally, the web pages of Ivy League institutions do not immediately address the direct preparation of their students before they enter the job market. Earlier evidence from the USA indicates that students themselves attach importance to the profile of the HEI they graduate from Tomlinson, , which may reflect the belief among Ivy League institutions that it is unnecessary to draw attention to their employability statistics — elite HEIs use their institutional reputations to support their graduates in finding good jobs; networks and alumni are vital for these institutions Brown et al.
Participant AK has also spoken about elite education in the USA and how a different set of values and ambitions drive employability:. The alumnis might have partnerships and people can gain opportunities if I want to go into the arts and sciences. This is where I think most of that information is in the departments… For example when I was applying I found most of that information in the departments.
We have so and so. And it also makes sense because sometimes of the pool of students coming into university, that makes a difference as well. The institutional reputation has leverage among employers; a more recent survey conducted in the USA suggested that employers themselves weight the brand reputation of the HEI when assessing potential employees The Chronicle The implication here is that more recent notions around graduate identity Holmes ; Valenzuela based on the institutional identity, are beginning to replace universal graduate transferable skills and competencies, so that employability preparedness is institutionally rather than disciplinarily aligned.
By focusing on specific aspects of employability, the data suggests that more middle-ranked HEIs are also beginning to develop an institutional brand and generate employability capital through their focus on employability, mainly by offering work placements, volunteer engagement programmes and directed support through their careers service. We acknowledge that there are methodological limitations to the research we have carried out. Firstly, there is an issue of validity in using institutional webpages featuring employability rather than consulting the webpages devoted to employability.
As has been mentioned earlier, the deliberate attempt was made to access and explore the hidden, implicit discourse rather than that which was exhibited and explicit in a bid to seek a more authentic discourse, not necessarily the one the institution aspired to create. Secondly, the data provides a snapshot in time rather than the whole picture. As has been mentioned earlier, websites are designed to be fluid which is why we considered more than one webpage in an attempt to construct a more robust story around the discourse the internet was revealing and asked for comment from recent graduates.
This has not been achieved in its entirety — ideally a greater number of HEIs ought to have been targeted, webpages considered and especially recent graduates asked for comment. Even though attempts were made to recruit recent graduates to take part in this research, the numbers that volunteered were fewer than anticipated. Therefore we acknowledge that their commentary does not provide a definitive validation of our findings, but some appreciation of whether there are similarities in the discourse coming from higher education and the experiences of students. Thirdly, the international comparison is only between two countries.
As both speak the same language and share similar values and traditions, we felt they provided us with a natural comparison. However, the inclusion of a country like China or India might have added a richer dimension to the findings. Having used the internet to conduct content text analysis, inserting our findings into a MIT SIMILE software package to visualise the data sets and seeking comments from recent graduates to verify our initial findings, it has been possible to attain an initial idea of the actual employability discourse within higher education in the UK and USA.
Our findings seem to resonate with this idea that the employability discourse within higher education is dynamic and continually shifting Boden and Nedeva There are some differences in emphasis among the two national contexts and the HEIs themselves; this is to be expected. The findings suggest that, in the UK, the broad discourse centres around government policies, which have a significant impact upon how employability discourse is presented and targeted preparation for employment, namely through career management and bolted-on activities.
In the USA, findings reveal that the broad discourse is centred on the institutional vision, whereby HEIs adhere to their own institutional brand in terms of who they attract, what facilities they offer and what expertise they have, and social inclusion which incorporates policies around support for disabled and disadvantaged students. Findings from both contexts suggest a steer towards a neoliberal ideology with employability for employment being at the heart of it.
We would argue that the employability agenda, as informed by global events and government ideologies, impacts upon higher education rather than higher education setting and controlling the employability agenda, and this is a key shift in determining the direction, context and content of the discourse. To follow on from this, it would be helpful to compare the discourse that has been revealed through our findings with that proposed by institutional managers and determine where the gap lies between the two. An unsuccessful attempt was made to do this, but there would be value in attaining such a perspective.
Having considered the findings and the direction of travel regarding the employability discourse, it is also worth mentioning the widening divide between employability for employment and curriculum to enhance academic performance. Curriculum has always been purported as transformational, whereas the current employability discourse signifies transaction. Our findings suggest that academic learning and employability no longer complement one another and that within higher education, both in the UK and USA, the two are functionally different. The discourse around employability is broader and no longer merely about the development of soft or transferable skills that can be integrated and embedded into the curriculum for example Drummond et al.
In relation to this, it would be useful to take a closer look at the employability strategies of all the HEIs featured in this piece of research to establish how employability preparedness is expected to occur within and outside the curriculum and how closely the strategies align with, or enhance, academic learning. There is appreciation for what HEIs do for their students and the efforts that have been made in supporting graduate employability; no doubt higher education is experiencing some difficulty in pinning down exactly what is meant by the employability discourse and in determining its direction — the shifting landscape adds to the difficulty, but it has taken up this challenge with aplomb.
Abreu M. Aune B. Higher education and disability in the United States of America: the context, a comprehensive model and current issues. Hurst Ed. Aldershot: Ashgate.
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How to Promote Studentsâ employability in Higher Education
Drummond I. Personal transferable skills in higher education: the problems of implementing good practice.
Quality Assurance in Education , 6 1 , 19— Eckel, P. Eyring H. Fallows S. Integrating Key Skills in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page. Farenga S. First, it makes a case for employability as a set of achievements which constitute a necessary but not sufficient condition for the gaining of employment. The second purpose is consequential, in that this publication has considerable implications for curricular activities in higher education.
The relationship between The relationship between higher education and the economy has, for a long time, been a topic of debate, and the historical perspective is outlined in sections two and three. Sections four, five and six discuss the concept of employability, with a preferred definition being put forward in section five. Section seven suggests that, whilst employers might ask for multi-competent graduates, some aspects of employment-related capability can only be developed in the employment context: work placements of various kinds during a higher education program may however make a significant contribution.
Sections eight and nine together constitute a challenge to simplistic thinking about skills. None of your libraries hold this item. Found at these bookshops Searching - please wait We were unable to find this edition in any bookshop we are able to search. These online bookshops told us they have this item:. Tags What are tags?
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