We had a large number of participants in our Webinar on the 25 January and there were many questions asked – we were not able to respond to all of them in the time available, so I’ve put together some brief responses to the questions asked in the text-chat and if anyone would like to add additional responses, please do so by replying to this post (see below):
Q: At what level in HE you start to introduce the employability skills concepts?
A: All the good practice seems to indicate that employability development should commence at the beginning of a student’s journey – this could even include the time between enrolment through to induction and programme start. This will help prepare students for engaging with employers in e.g. placements and other employer-related activities during programmes.
Q: Are any UK HEs using the Co-Curricular Record model that seems so popular in North America? A transcript of campus engagement…on paper.
A: A range of universities have already developed HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Reports) records for students where section 6.1 covers achievements beyond the normal curricula and have set-up processes for validating such achievements and providing a record for students to show to employers. Some of these are in electronic format. Further info can be found at the Centre for Recording Achievement. I am working on a project with Jisc investigating how such electronic HEAR records can be used in more formative approaches.
I am also very keen to encourage greater collaboration between employers, HE and FE in matchmaking student projects to employer problems/needs and one of our report’s recommendations is to set an online network up to facilitate this type of collaboration.
Q: Can you expand on how to use LinkedIn cleverly and subtly?
A: I found in the research that the training given to students in using networks such as LinkedIn can be rather passive and defensive focusing on e.g. digital safety/identity. Whilst these are important, I believe it is necessary to support students in proactively engaging with employers, alumni, employer/professional bodies etc through more than just creating a profile e.g. by using such networks to actively engage alumni with mentoring students and using LinkedIn groups to engage with new topics and people world-wide.
Q: How much differentiation do you see in the themes discussed between Undergraduate and Postgraduate needs? Do you think they need separate treatment or can these ideas be incorporated across programmes, in your view?
A: In the report research, we did mostly concentrate on UG study so I perhaps am not best qualified to answer this question – I would like to throw it open for responses. My instincts would say that ideally, employability should be developed at an UG level, leaving e.g. PGT courses to focus on specialist fields within their mostly reduced time-scales.
Q: How do we engage the students from the beginning of their studies with employability? They are so focused on “now”!
A: The good practice identified in the report highlights the importance of “connected curricula”, where employability is built into assessed learning outcomes from the beginning of the learner journey and there is greater emphasis on staged formative feedback and dialogue/action on feedback, so that students have no choice but to engage with it.
Q: How has South Devon used Digi’ badges? How were they received?
A: See the FE case studies for further info.
Q: Do you have specific examples of badge use / showcasing
Q: It still appears that we are looking at employability as a here and now dilemma rather than a cyclic generational journey. Does your Life long journey have appreciation for the school to college to University to work to an opportunity provider and parent? If so how can that be tracked from a person perspective?
A: The report does emphasise the need for developing “lifelong employability”, rather than just focusing on students gaining jobs on graduation – recognising that students will have to continually adapt to changing employer needs and demands throughout their careers. I do agree with the sentiments expressed that this even needs to start at school and FE and ideally with students provided with “lifelong” resources to help record their formal achievements and help them showcase their work and skills. We do not have this yet and I know Jisc are looking into this area.
Q: Anyone have any ideas about getting students engaged when they are reluctant to engage with employability issues. Sometimes students don’t take employability skills seriously and don’t see employability modules as a valid part of their degree.
A: I have a similar answer to the one above about engaging students by embedding employability into assessed learning outcomes, curricula activities and staged formative feedback. Part of this is also about getting students to articulate the employability learning outcomes in their own language at the beginning of programmes and discussing these, so that they begin to fully appreciate the importance early on. It is also important to build employer engagement into programmes so that students being to realise how employers think and act.
Q: Is there any training/best practice guidance that people know of that cover creating Moodle employability courses?
A: In section 4 of the report, you will find a summary of all the HE and FE case studies and the tables highlight the technologies used – many of which include Moodle. I would suggest browsing these case studies for details of good practices.
Q: Do you manage students while they’re on placement to direct their development, or prepare them beforehand?
A: Good practice seems to indicate the importance of preparing students for placements beforehand and also providing mentoring and support. In my own experience, it is also important to “mentor” employers as they do not always know how best to supervise and support students. I have also found it is important to persuade employers to “stretch” students and to provide meaningful opportunities e.g. to solve real-work problems, whilst at the same time communicating to listen out for problems.
It is also worth looking at the Univ Nottingham vignette in the FE case studies for info about using portfolios to support placement activities.