Learning, Curriculum, and Employability in Higher Education

By Peter Knight; Mantz Yorke | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

The Skills plus project and nursing
Geraldine Lyte
Introduction
This chapter presents some of the continuing educational developments in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting, University of Manchester, arising from the School's involvement in the Skills plus project. The project's key aim has been to build curriculum, learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) practices that enhance students' employability. It might be asked why a School of Nursing should want to become involved in a project to fine-tune curricula, with the purposes of enhancing students' employability, when the professional component of all nursing programmes is designed to prepare students specifically for employment in the healthcare sector. The project was, in fact, timely for nursing because it was initiated at a time when nursing education was considered to be too theoretically driven to prepare its students adequately for the workplace (Glen and Clark, 1999). Our curriculum planning teams felt that the adoption of the USEM framework to support curriculum development would have both professional and academic benefits. For example, by focusing on the development of subject (in our case nursing), research and key transferable skills, all of which the USEM framework embraces, it could contribute to an individual's employability at the point of registration, as recommended by the English Department of Health (DoH, 1999), the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (UKCC, 1999), the Dearing Report (NCIHE, 1997) and the 2003 English White Paper (DfES, 2003). Our Nursing School wanted to use its involvement in the project to evaluate existing LTA practices and undergraduate achievements in preparation for the development of a new programme for 2002.The case raises half a dozen issues of wider interest:
• It shows that the USEM account of employability is compatible with the need to educate nurses to high academic and professional standards.
• The account can be applied beneficially to existing practices.
• Incremental change is a feasible strategy for enhancing the contribution that curricula make to employability.
• USEM is a convenient formula for directing attention to the range of achievements that a professional programme needs to consider.

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