EE2012September 17th – 20th 2012E-mentoring for employabilityDr Andrea Wheeler, Professor Simon Austin andProfessor Jacqui GlassThe Centre for Engineering & Design Education, 1st Floor, Keith Green BuildingSchool of Civil and Building Engineering
Outline • My paper describes the work of an HEA Departmental Grant with the School of Civil and Building Engineering. • Examines theories of employability • Through narratives of mentees and mentors involved in the first pilot programme examines notions of employability and explores internationalisation to ask we can provide in e-mentoring programmes a virtual space for students to discover the capabilities they need to live the lives they value.
Context and statistics • 5.1% reduction in graduate employment. • Recent graduates are more likely to work in a lower skilled job than ten years ago. • Figures show that nearly 36% are employed in a lower skilled job compared with 26.7% in 2001 (the Graduates in the Labour Market 2012 report published by the Office for National Statistics).
Even at PhD level…students without relevantexperience. I really have worries about my post PhD life because I would like to be involved with industry, but suddenly feel like I am a fresh university graduate (even after getting PhD!). There is so much uncertainty, and if I am being honest some lack of confidence on my part (Loughborough University, School of Civil and Building Engineering, International PhD Student 2011).
Educational theories: Employability inEngineering • Engagement with employers. The Government White Paper Higher Education: Students at the heart of the system (BIS, 2011) states the need for employer engagement and similarly the Wilson Review (Wilson, ed., 2009) recommends that Universities work more with employers. • The new graduate engineer needs new skills. The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) 2010 report Engineering Graduates for Industry states businesses have also stressed the new and distinct roles engineers now play in businesses: ‘…the technical specialist imbued with expert knowledge; …the integrator.. operating across boundaries in complex environments; and ... the change agent providing the creativity, innovation and leadership necessary to meet new challenges’ (RAE, 2007).
Theorists of employability Apollo Research Institute. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti: Employees want to stay relevant, and educators need to prepare the next-generation workforce. HEA Sector (US). In Society 3.0: How Technology is Reshaping Education, Work, and Society (January 2012) she argues HEIs needs to assess the intersection of technology, education, and business. – what this means for new graduates. In Future Work Skills 2020, a study by the Institute for the Future, for Apollo Research Institute (2011), she identifies 10 key skills new graduates and current workers will need to stay competitive. New skills they identify: 1. "transdisciplinarity" (understanding concepts across multiple disciplines), 2. "virtual collaboration" (proficiency in working as part of geographically dispersed teams), 3. "cross-cultural competency" (ability to operate in multicultural settings). 4. “Social intelligence” (workers who can build collegial and productive online relationships will be in high demand). “As organizations expand globally, social intelligence will help managers build virtual workgroups comprising the right blend of talent and personalities,” Dr. Wilen-Daugenti says. Other skills include: Sense making; novel and adaptive thinking; design mindset; new media literacy; computational thinking, cognitive load management
Growing Internationalisation of the HEEnvironment• The problem of internationalisation in HE, as cited within literature is, however, a rather fluid concept. It may refer to very different problems:• “Intercultural competence”, the ability to communicate those working in or from different cultures – free from prejudice and motivated to continued learning: A set of cognitive, behavioural, and affective/motivational components that enable individuals to adapt effectively in intercultural environments.• “Transnational education”, whilst this may refer to the growing numbers of international students who go abroad for a combination of reasons such as career advancement, quality of education, immigration or the experience of living abroad. There are a number of international students who want career advancement and quality of education, without having to go very far from home (hence the birth of satellite campus)• or equally the “Bologna process” and its potential for student mobility.• How students understand themselves and building upon their employability from their own life experience and background.
• Developing employability and intercultural competence isn’t just about skill (or indeed HEIs identifying skills needed).• The impact of social and cultural capital is well know: graduates from working class backgrounds are less likely to know how to “work the system” (James Rhem, 1998)• Developing ‘soft skills’, personal qualities and dispositions – easier for some than others?• Students often don’t know what they want their working lives to be.
Educational theory and CAPABILITYPut simply, the capability approach is aboutfreedom and the development of an environmentsuitable for human flourishing. Capability refers towhat people are actually able to be and do, ratherthan to what resources they have access to. Itfocuses on developing people’s capability tochoose a life that they have reason to value.Freedom and capabilities cannot be separated. Theopportunities to develop capabilities and theprocess of deciding collectively on valuablecapabilities both require and produce freedom(Walker, 2004, 104).Profoundly student centred approach to employability…
CAPABILITY IN EDUCATIONThe capabilities approach focuses on what each and every person is ableto do and be, their ‘valuable doings and beings’, in making meaningfulchoices from a range of options [...] The notion of ‘reason to value’ isimportant, pointing as it does to reflective, informed choices. At issue forcritical and democratic forms of educational action research is that Sen’scapability approach offers an approach to evaluating social(and, hence, educational) advantage, in which expanding people’s agencyand freedom is held to be central. In this approach, an individualscapabilities to undertake valued and valuable activities constitutes anindispensable and central part of the evidence for our judgements, arrivedat through an educational action research process about how well they aredoing (Walker, M. 2004, 104).Walker, M and Elaine Unterhalter eds., (2010) Amartya Sen’s Capability Approachand Social Justice in Education. Palgrave Macmillan
E-mentoring research1. The tension a capabilities approach defines - within the scope of an e-mentoring programme - is whether students have the freedom to achievethose functionings’ (ambitions) that they value?2. Are there new ways thinking about employability emerging from achanging HE community – from students, academic and industrycollaborators - demanding curriculum support from HE; and do e-mentoringschemes provide a testing ground for the discovery of this need for change?
The E-MENTORING Pilot : “Improving StudentEmployability Through E-Mentoring”.(February 2012 – June 2012)• Awarded HEA Departmental Grant• Recruited mentors and mentees. Mentors were young, 2- 7 years post qualification. Mentees from the School of Civil and Building Engineering (without placement experience).• Invited to a launch meeting to meet mentors/mentees and have some training (all online).• Left to get on with it. Some emails. Some invitations to feedback via online questionnaires.• June – August interviews.• September, review of programme and revision ahead of pilot 2.
Aims:• examine the changing skills needed by graduates joining Industry;• explore the employment benefits of e-mentoring schemes for undergraduate and postgraduate students;• pilot and refine e-mentoring processes;• develop sustainable implementation plans for undergraduate and graduate programmes at Loughborough University, and;• create a tool-kit for the adoption of e-mentoring by other Universities andother disciplines.Outputs:• A project web-site to provide guidance to participants and to disseminate findings and outputs, and;• An overview publication about implementing mentoring through use of technology, which describes experiences, lessons learned and the resulting effective practice.
Narratives and experienceMENTEES (interviews carried out by summerintern) Benefits?What did they talk about? CVs Job Applications The UK workingenvironmentHow did they feel about it? Generally positiveSuccesses and failures? Some – it was the first pilot
Narratives and experienceMENTEES (interviews carried out by summerintern) Benefits?Mentees:…things that really stand out for me are that at this level after Masters when we goback home we’re going to be more of manager’s than technical people. Peoplemanagement, which is a very difficult thing, working with big groups, I’ve learnt acouple of things about that. The thing I’ve learnt is about strategies, this wascompletely new to me, you know. Every business, everything in life, there’s a strategy.You need to know where you want to go and have some sort of plan to get there.Before we just used to wake up and do things and get there.Discussions are generally about the experiences gained in the industry and guidelinesand tips on how to be successful in industry. The way things are done in theconstruction industry in Ghana and UK were discussed and compared.
Narratives and experienceMENTEES (interviews carried out by summerintern) Benefits?Discussions to date had been about: How do you organise a large business; whatprocedures do you need to put in place when planning/running a big project; thequalities of a good manager; how is knowledge shared within large organisations; andcontinuous development of staff within industry and whose responsibility it is.I used to supervise new graduates in my workplace as well and one of theproblems new graduates face is that they get shocked at the new challenge *…+working under pressure and it helps when someone tells you how he is so busyand so under pressure and then those issues prepare a fresh graduate for thefuture.
Narratives and experienceMENTORSOur initial conversations were a bit of an ice breaker discussing both mybackground and Linda’s (name changed). We discussed the path Linda hadfollowed to go to University and what she expected from a career in civilengineering. We also discussed her academic strengths and weaknesses.Following on from that Linda arranged a sponsorship interview with aconstruction company, so we discussed in great detail CV’s including goingthrough some of my own older ones and my and Linda’s current CV’s . We thentalked about what it’s like to be an interviewer *…+ We have also discussedsome of the coursework and lab projects…See William Bancroft (2012) “E-mentoring foremployability” POSTER PRESENTATION
Improvements for the second pilot• Training• Pairing• Technology• Relationships
ORIGINAL RESEARCH QUESTION…Approaching Pilot 2A question for mentees. The tension a capabilities approach defines -within the scope of an e-mentoring programme - is whether studentshave the freedom to achieve those functionings’ (ambitions) that theyvalue?A question for mentors: Are there new ways thinking aboutemployability emerging from a changing HE community – fromstudents, academic and industry collaborators - demandingcurriculum support from HE; and do e-mentoring schemes provide atesting ground for the discovery of this need for change? 21
Expanding the programme to other departments in the University.The President of the ICE, Richard Coackley gave a lecture on the theme ofenergy to the School of Civil and Building Engineering where he focused onthree areas of development for the engineering institution: harnessing newsources of sustainable energy from natural resources; harnessing the skills andtalent of the UK’s engineers and future engineers; and harnessing the energy ofthe ICE’s partnerships with industry and Government. Citing the HEA e-mentoring project, he stated:The e-mentoring pilot scheme, headed by Professor Simon Austin, links studentswith construction professionals according to interest and career path to providethe principles of traditional mentoring but exploiting the free and readilyavailable technologies of Skype, social media and e-mail to foster the awarenessof professional practice and the needs of employers. This is an excellent exampleof harnessing the energy: with mentors using their time and energy to harnessand refine the energy of their mentees providing them with importantexperience of industry. (Richard Coackley, 20th April 2012, LoughboroughUniversity School of Civil and Building Engineering).
Dr Andrea WheelerTeaching and Learning Co-ordinator (Projects),The Centre for Engineering & Design Educationa.firstname.lastname@example.org://www.sustainability-and-schools.com