The Careers and Employment Service ran a seminar on Wednesday, exploring misconceptions around employability with a focus on how academics can embed employability into their teaching, no matter the discipline or individual unit.
Introduced by PVC Learning and Teaching Sherman Young, who reinforced the idea that we cannot predict the future our graduates will experience, the seminar also included talks from Matthew Bulbert from Biology, Linda Evans from Ancient History and Wayne Warburton from Psychology. The speakers gave practical examples of how they have successfully incorporated aspects of employability into their units, whit the help and guidance of the Careers and Employment Service.
Our Graduates need life skills, not just degrees, and we need to prepare them for continually changing career trajectories.
Matthew Bulbert teaches a Biology Capstone unit, and discussed how using a workplace scenario forces students to explore meaningful contributions to society, the generation of original ideas and the concept of selling their ideas. This scenario also develops students ‘soft skills’, as well as responding to sometimes challenging feedback in an iterative process.
Linda Evans teaches a Capstone unit in Ancient History, and found many students came to her concerned about career prospects for Ancient History graduates. Through her unit, in which students must secure an internship before enrolling, students discover they do in fact possess marketable skills and are capable of applying them in the workplace. She emphasised a need to build confidence in our students and their skills.
Wayne has run a Psychology unit for 7 years, and places 400-460 students each year, with the help of PACE staff. He believes the impact One Student can make on the World; including a student of his own who after working with an organisation became so passionate she created a video that attracted the personal support and attention of Oprah. He expressed an overwhelmingly positive view of the current student cohort, contradictory to publicised views on ‘Gen-Me’. Students placements through his unit as so successful up to 16% are offered employment and up to 32% continue to volunteer at placement organisations.
Recurring themes identified in this session included the need to raise students self awareness of skills, the value of increasing student confidence and a need to introduce employability even earlier than capstone units – ideally first year.
While we have come a long way, Employability needs to be actively addressed in all units and is everyones business. For more information on Employability – including where to find the CareerWise unit, please contact the Careers and Employment Service.