C-SAP showcase event October 2011: Employability skills in the social sciences


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This presentation was delivered at the C-SAP dissemination event, 24 October 2011. For more information, please see csapshowcase.wordpress.com

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C-SAP showcase event October 2011: Employability skills in the social sciences

  1. 1. Employability skills in the Social Sciences- Parent and Student expectations Kate Strudwick & Jill Jameson October 2011
  2. 2. Context <ul><li>As academics we need to understand why students might want to go to university and what they want to study? </li></ul><ul><li>Political quantitative assumptions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bigger salary=best job. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Graduateness’ of the job within six months after graduation is what matters. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More taught hours=best value for money. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other options for a degree- Private ‘universities’ or 2 year degrees? </li></ul></ul>Fee Increases ‘ Micky Mouse’ Degrees ‘ Value’ for Money
  3. 3. Aims/objectives of the research <ul><li>Evaluate perceptions of the ‘employability value’ of Social Science courses held by pre-university students and their parents. </li></ul><ul><li>A greater awareness of the place of Social Sciences in HE and the benefits of studying the discipline. </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at whether expectations of HE from parents and pre entry students match. </li></ul><ul><li>A greater understanding of what motivates students to engage with ‘employability’. </li></ul><ul><li>A greater consideration of whether ‘employability’ and ‘transferable skills’ are important measures in universities/degrees choice. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Methodology <ul><li>Stage one: </li></ul><ul><li>Semi structured surveys with parents and pre-entry students from 3 regional schools: </li></ul><ul><li>Semi structured surveys with parents and pre-entry students at applicant open day: </li></ul><ul><li>Stage two: </li></ul><ul><li>Two Focus groups with year 11 and year 12 students from two schools. </li></ul><ul><li>One day employability showcase day </li></ul>
  5. 5. Awareness of the place of Social Sciences in HE: Post school plans <ul><li>Majority saw education as valuable for their future. </li></ul><ul><li>Year 11: 89% intending to stay on & Year 12: 64% wanted to go to university. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><li>68% to make them more ‘employable’ “I’d like to gain more qualifications at a higher level in order to get what I need for university and a job” </li></ul><ul><li>14% ‘didn’t know what else to do’. </li></ul><ul><li>Influences: Gain Information from parents, schools, teachers, friends.. But still see a need for: </li></ul><ul><li>“… more course content maybe student visits” (Year 11) </li></ul><ul><li>Place of Social Science- viewed very positively by both open day and school students. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Pre-entry students: Their expectations: <ul><li>Student groups: </li></ul><ul><li>1. I want to experience “university life” (69%) </li></ul><ul><li>2. The job I want needs a degree (68%) </li></ul><ul><li>3. Graduates earn more money (67%) </li></ul><ul><li>… although linked to employability and careers, participants also saw the importance of personal growth from ‘university life ’ </li></ul><ul><li>Parents particularly saw the value of the ‘university experience’: </li></ul><ul><li>“ To engage full potential… not an opportunity to be missed.” (Parent comment) </li></ul>
  7. 7. ‘ Employability’ in the curriculum: Students <ul><li>Applicant student comments about what they wanted: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The ability to speak to people who are using the skills they have developed in their working life”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Preparation for career entry” Interviews “Help in what direction of employment to go in”. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Both parents and students wanted some sort of ‘employability teaching’ in the curriculum…But many things beyond the curriculum were mentioned under the ‘employability umbrella’: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>extra opportunities -volunteering/work experience outside of the curriculum; practical opportunities -meeting alumni </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Parent views on what university should offer: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Fantastic opportunities now available to them, and to embark on a course that hopefully will provide quality of future living and choices” . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Better jobs prospects, meeting new people, being away from home and learning to grow up in an adult environment” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perception of Social Sciences skills: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open day parents were positive about the types of transferable skills their son or daughter would gain from a social science degree, in comparison to other degrees such as science, business and medicine. </li></ul></ul>‘ Employability’ in the curriculum: Parents
  9. 9. Value of Social Science in the workplace: Parents and students. <ul><li>Students and parents saw the Social Sciences as leading to various careers including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Social services/government services prison/ correctional institutions. Anything that involves communicating with individuals on a daily basis” (Applicant student). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But there were wider options for instance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Government, policy thinking, planning..” (parent). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And some parents saw the flexibility of the degree as potentially leading to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Virtually all jobs with the possible exception of specific skill work- medicine/ science” (parent). </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Reputation: University as ‘Value for Money’ <ul><li>Whilst ‘value for money’ is seen as important, the students in the focus groups saw this in different ways: </li></ul><ul><li>I would google a university- ask the best course for what ever courses… </li></ul><ul><li>It is important if the university has got a better reputation than not…but once you get there you might find the university itself is better… </li></ul><ul><li>While other students commented on what reputation means and the importance of it : </li></ul><ul><li>The good points, good teachers , that they teach well, if they do not they may not care, its important… </li></ul>
  11. 11. Concluding thoughts… <ul><li>Education is seen as a valuable by both parents and students for future opportunities. </li></ul><ul><li>Employability is an important issue, but it is also about the ‘experience of university life’ and all the opportunities that this brings. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Sciences came out well in terms of providing “value for money”, “employability” and transferable skills…with teaching being seen as particularly important for pre-entry students. </li></ul><ul><li>Where do we go from here? </li></ul>