Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability
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Published By Deakin University

Updated Wednesday, 07 July 2021

Lourdes Guàrdia ◽  
Federica Mancini ◽  
Pedro Jacobetty ◽  
Marcelo Maina

This paper reports a study about the perceptions of the academic community, employers and civil servants regarding graduates’ employability skills in East Africa. Specifically, it focuses on the mismatch between skills acquired in Higher Education (HE) and those in demand by employers, and explores factors influencing the situation. A mixed method approach was implemented including a survey and a set of focus groups. The questionnaire on employability skills was distributed among regional stakeholders attending the Open Day events organised by three East African HE Institutions. A Principal Components Analysis was applied for the categorisation of the most in-demand skills and the identification of four major workplace skill sets. To gain further insights into the stakeholders’ perceptions of the graduate employability skills gap, 11 focus groups were organised at the same universities. The general results showed that employability skills were mostly perceived as insufficiently developed during the students’ progress in their programs. The final results enabled a better understanding of the nuanced relationship between labour market valuation and graduates’ acquisition of each skill set. It also allowed us to identify problems and barriers, and suggest possible solutions to overcome the shortcomings experienced by the sub-Saharan HE system.

Elizabeth J. Cook ◽  
Linda Crane ◽  
Shelley Kinash ◽  
Amy Bannatyne ◽  
Joseph Crawford ◽  

Postgraduate students are navigating a rapidly evolving landscape for their future careers. In this context, higher education providers are responsible for supporting and monitoring postgraduate (masters and doctoral) students’ development for both education and employability contexts. This empirical research provides a rich analysis of feedback breakfasts, focus groups and interviews with 319 postgraduate student participants from 26 universities. Emergent themes highlight widespread lack of confidence in university-mediated student experiences, particularly in the context of employability, and pessimism regarding career outcomes. Students expressed a view that higher education providers need to direct further attention and relevant supports toward postgraduate education. Future career despondency was particularly prevalent among students with academic aspirations. The findings are discussed using the theoretical framework of eudemonia and flourishing as an approach to revitalising and improving both the process and outcomes of postgraduate education. The paper concludes with practical recommendations for universities to improve the postgraduate student experience in the context of employability.

Kapambwe Mwelwa ◽  
Lazarus D.M. Lebeloane ◽  
Ailwei S. Mawela

A pragmatic approach was used to explore the extent to which four selected social science degree programs were relevant for the skill needs of the job market in Zambia. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from 162 participants using interviews and questionnaires. The SPSS version 24 and Atlas. Ti Version 8 were used to analyse and interpret data within the framework of the Capability Approach. The findings reveal that the relevance of each of the four social science degree programs depend on how key stakeholders in higher education and the labour market perceive them and that graduate employability was affected by factors such as the need and importance of social sciences to the labour market; employer and student perceptions of employability skills in the degree programs; demand for the programs; graduate work readiness, and the availability of graduate job prospects. It could be concluded that although all four social science degree programs were important, their relevance to the needs of Zambia’s labour market varied from program to program.

Andreas Eimer ◽  
Carla Bohndick

University students have different backgrounds and varied experiences. This diversity has frequently been examined with regard to performance in Higher Education. However, much less attention has been paid to its significance concerning employability. The investigation of this potential relationship is the focus of this study. In this research, 429 students at a German university were assessed on the strength of their employability, which here is defined as a multi-factorial construct. The Career Resources Questionnaire (CRQ) was used (Hirschi et al., 2019) which is a comprehensive instrument that analyses the self-assessed strength of twelve essential career resources amongst respondents. The results were then related to several individual preconditions: existing or non-existing commitment to voluntary work, sporting activity or sporting inactivity and being a first-generation student (FGS) or a continuing-generation student (CGS). These characteristics were chosen, because they are commonly represented in the student population. In addition, some socio-economic implications are discussed. Significant differences were found between the participant groups. Some results correspond with the findings of existing studies, others lead to new explanatory approaches. Based on the overall findings, recommendations for career counselling as well as for seminars in career orientation are given. For example, students' experiences outside the university environment can be used in career counselling to strengthen perceived employability or a supportive approach to first-generation students can lead to the development of career-related strengths.

Andrea Reid ◽  
Anna Richards ◽  
Dino Willox

A key part of the student experience in the higher education context is employability. There is an expectation that universities will contribute to their students’ employability and indeed they are measured on this contribution and are allocated funding based on it. Despite the importance of employability in higher education, it remains a complex and contested concept, often conflated with employment – graduates in jobs and the roles they occupy – and seen as a quantifiable outcome of the student experience. Where employability is understood as an individual’s knowledge, capabilities, and personal attributes that make them more likely to gain employment and be successful in their professional lives, it is often framed by the discourse of skills. There are some employability models, however, that champion a more holistic view of employability and highlight the role that experiences play in individual employability development. This paper reports on the development of an institutional employability framework and reflective process in an Australian research-intensive university. The paper discusses the experiential learning theories that underpin the reflective process that supports students to understand and articulate employability learning, for framing narratives around the potential to contribute to an organisation for employment, and for the transfer of this potential to professional contexts. The framework and reflective process represent employability as a learning process through which students make meaning from their experiences and learning opportunities. This involves understanding the value of their experiences, how to articulate that value, and how to transfer it to workplace performance

Joy Perkins ◽  
Mary Pryor

Digital badges hold considerable potential for employers and recruiters, as they evidence accomplishments of skills and competencies at a more granular level than a traditional degree certificate. Badges are a validated, online graphical representation of an achievement, which is accomplished by undertaking criteria-based learning activities. Despite the established educational benefits of badges in higher education, limited research has been conducted into employer awareness, acceptance, and use of digital badges in recruitment practices. To address this research gap, a mixed method study combining quantitative and qualitative data collection was conducted before and during the COVID-19 health pandemic. Approximately 700 employers were emailed and invited to complete the initial survey and 73 responded. One of the major survey findings is that 97% of respondents were unfamiliar with the concept of digital badges. Significantly, however, despite the lack of employer awareness there was no widespread resistance to the concept of badges, but a strong appeal for further clarification of their value, credibility, and security. Analysis of the data reveals stronger partnership working, between the higher education sector and employers, is pivotal to establish effective digital credentialing systems. Recommendations for higher education institutions have emerged from this study, which aim to balance pedagogical digital badge practice with employer needs. Such synergies are crucial to address the changing skills agenda, to prepare students to thrive in physical and virtual work environments. Given the paucity of research in this field, further studies are warranted, to investigate the impact of digital badges on the employer community.

Lana Mitchell ◽  
Chris Campbell ◽  
Mari Somerville ◽  
Elizabeth Cardell ◽  
Lauren Williams

Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are increasingly being used in university degrees to showcase graduate employability. However, evidence on employers’ views and use of ePortfolios has not been synthesised. This study aimed to systematically review the evidence on employer, industry representative and university educator views on the use of ePortfolios in recruiting graduates, including recommended ePortfolio content. Six databases were searched to identify original research on views and utilisation of ePortfolios published since 2000. Studies were screened in duplicate, and the full texts of 163 articles reviewed. Included studies were synthesised to reveal common themes. The 17 included studies represented a range of industries and most were conducted in the USA (n=10). Awareness of ePortfolios was low, as was use within recruitment. Perceived advantages of ePortfolios in recruitment included showcasing key skills/work; ability to comprehensively assess and differentiate between candidates quickly; and accessibility. The main disadvantages were the time taken to review, excessive information and establishing authenticity. Recommended ePortfolios content included samples of professional work, reflections, videos and photos. Inclusion of typical resume content, work experience, skills, transcripts, certificates, references, supervisor evaluations were important, as was a clear and concise structure.

Michael Healy

Providers, industry, and governments have embraced microcredentialing as a solution to the volatility and velocity of changes in labour markets, workplace competencies, and the needs of the 21st century lifelong learner (Oliver, 2019). However, microcredentials do not, in and of themselves, guarantee career or employment success. Seeking a microcredential is one adaptive career behaviour that people might enact in pursuit of their career goals (Lent & Brown, 2013). Similarly, holding a microcredential is one form of employability capital that people might highlight when seeking employment (Tomlinson & Anderson, 2020).

Mahbub Sarkar ◽  
Simone Gibson ◽  
Nazmul Karim ◽  
Dakota Rhys-Jones ◽  
Dragan Ilic

Employability skills for health graduates, and many disciplines within higher education, are considered vital to maximising their capacity to cope with the rapidly changing, uncertain and highly competitive labour market. Despite the increasing importance of developing generic skills for employability, there is a dearth of knowledge about how to support health students to develop generic skills as part of their formal education. The main objective of this two-phase study was to engage health students in the process of self-assessment of their generic skills and explore the potential of this process to facilitate their generic skills development. The first phase of this study engaged students in completing a self- assessment questionnaire, incorporating a validated set of industry-demanded skills with associated behaviours. In the second phase a subsection of respondents participated in focus group interviews that explored their perception of the self-assessment process in generic skills development. Students viewed themselves as having some capabilities to perform the generic skills, as well as their university studies contributing to the development of these skills. The qualitative data found that the self-assessment process prompted students to reflect on their abilities and further engage with developing these skills. This study supports the evidence for contextualising and embedding a process of self-assessment of generic skills into the formal curricula to help better prepare health students for their future work.

Michelle J. Eady ◽  
Joel Keen

This paper describes the current situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates entering the workforce and compares this with personal reflections from current Indigenous students engaged in the tertiary setting. The purpose is twofold: first, to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student voice; and second, to provide an avenue for this voice to contribute to and influence the design of employability programs in higher education. This study examines how the use of Indigenous research methods, such as yarning/yarning circles, can effectively and ethically collect data to amplify and promote the student voice in ways that conventional Western research methods currently fail to do. This amplified voice can create a platform for researchers and practitioners to understand students’ views and implement informed and tailored approaches to planning programs and delivering curriculum; in this case, employability-readiness skill sets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in higher education. The findings are analysed thematically, and recommendations presented for higher-education institutions to consider when creating pedagogical approaches for the employability readiness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates.

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