Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

Synopsis

How can universities ensure that they are preparing their students for today's competitive job market? This book tackles the highly topical subject of graduate underemployment with insight and clarity. The authors argue the case for more sophisticated research into employability with passion and vision, discussing how employability-friendly curricula can be developed, even in subjects which have less obvious vocational relevance. The rapid growth of higher education over the past fifty years has seen expectations increase, and governments seeking to widen participation. There is now an urgent need for the Government and higher education institutions to address the issue of graduate employability. The authors of this timely book encourage a pro-active stance, offering a ground-breaking model that can be easily implemented in institutions to make low-cost, high-gain improvements to students' employability. Topics covered include: * The challenge of employability * The study and careers of English graduates * The enhancement of practice * Assessing employability * The Skills Plus project. Based on a set of over 200 in-depth interviews with recent graduates, this book forms a unique account of the meanings of employability in the workplace.

Excerpt

'Employability' may be a British term, but the concern with higher education's contribution to the graduate labour market is international. The case we develop here has significant implications for higher education practices across the world, although our examples are mainly from the UK; however, our set of references shows that we have been informed by work published elsewhere. Although we appreciate the danger of over-generalizing from distinctive UK concerns and its unique higher education system, we do consider that our arguments transcend the examples. We invite readers to appraise what we have to say in the light of their own particular situations.

Employability: concern and action

We find no shortage of projects to help students develop the 'assets' that employers value, to identify suitable job opportunities and to present themselves to best advantage. There is a sense, though, that these activities, valuable though they are, occupy the margins of higher education. Consider an unpublished analysis of the ways in which the UK Learning and Teaching Support Network's 24 subject centres stood in regard to employability early in 2002: about half the centres claimed that employability was on their agenda but it was found that 'the level of activity reported did not appear to reflect this … the actual level of interest and work related to employability across the centres can only be described as low'.

Employability and academic values

One explanation for a low level of engagement with employability might be that, in the absence of a common definition of employability, higher education teachers interpret it as an intrusion on the proper concerns of academic life. In contrast, our central claim is that a concern for employability aligns with a concern for academic values and the promotion of good learning. We do not mean this in a trivial sense but argue that promoting employability means highlighting and then

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