Fostering a critical awareness of employability

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Fostering a critical awareness of employability in a discipline where linkage to professional career development is less clearly articulated …

Fostering a critical awareness of employability in a discipline where linkage to professional career development is less clearly articulated

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  • 1. Employability and the sociological imagination: Fostering a critical awareness of employability in a discipline where linkage to professional career development is less clearly articulated Kety Faina, Gordon Heggie, Jade McCarroll, Neil McPherson, Paul McShane, John Melia, Donna Russell, Iqra Tusadiq Higher Education Academy: Social Sciences workshop and seminar series 2013-14.
  • 2. Employability Partnership Learner journey Critical thinking Targets Student feedback Student experience Research mindedness Engagement Active learning Collaboration Creativity Flexible curriculum Citizenship Interdisciplinarity Communication Change Student as producer Curriculum design Performance Inquiry-based learning Peer evaluation Resilience Peer-assisted learning
  • 3. Going round in circles Searching for an approach to employability A framework for employability (Cole & Tibby, 2013: 10) Stage 1. Discussion & reflection ‘Creating and defining a shared point of reference’ Stage 2. Review/Mapping What are we doing/not doing? Stage 4. Evaluate What does success look like & how is it measured? How can we enhance practice further? Goal: A defined, cohesive and more Comprehensive approach to employability Stage 3. Action How do we share & enhance existing practice? How do we address ‘gaps’ in provision?
  • 4. First steps Two key developments • Create a series of core modules that reconfigured the relationship between teaching and research through the introduction of active inquiry-based learning • Address an employability agenda where students are increasingly viewed ‘as consumers of education and academics’ identifications as producers of consumer (that is teaching-and-learning) services’ (Boden & Epstien 2006: 227) • Searching for a solution to what Neary (2012) calls the ‘impossible project’
  • 5. Reconfiguring the curriculum Engaging students in research and inquiry ‘our goal here is to move more curricula in the direction of developing students as participants in research and inquiry, so that they are producers, not just consumers of knowledge’ (Healey & Jenkins 2009: 6) (encouraging)…’the development of collaborative relations between student and academic for the production of knowledge’ (Neary & Winn 2010: 137)
  • 6. Unpacking the employability agenda Employability and higher education ‘Many of the graduates I met were unprepared, uninformed and lacking in self- awareness. They struggled to demonstrate what it was they wanted from a job and what they could bring to it. Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (2006) *Universities need to improve+… the business relevance of undergraduate courses. Business of course have a key role in stepping up to work with universities to improve the relevance of course content…*and+..to see moves to greater flexibility in course design and delivery, leading to courses that fit better with the needs of businesses…a readiness to take a much greater share of the market for training provision.’ CBI (2013) Changing the pace: education and skills survey, pg.57
  • 7. Embedding employability ‘Embedding employability into the core of higher education will continue to be a key priority of Government, universities and colleges, and employers. This will bring both significant private and public benefit, demonstrating higher education’s broader role in contributing to economic growth as well as its vital role in social and cultural development.’ (HEFCE, 2011, pg.5) *But+…‘the complexity of employability and the variety that exists in curricula in UK higher education mean that no single, ideal, prescription for the embedding of employability can be provided.’ (Yorke & Knight 2006: 2)
  • 8. Our initial model
  • 9. Our initial mapping Embedding employability in the social science curriculum • Mapping of modules to CIHE competencies and HEA student employability profiles • Raising staff/students awareness of the way in which employability competencies are embedded in the curriculum • Promoting graduate attributes
  • 10. Our initial map
  • 11. Questioning the employability agenda ‘The concept of employability…was introduced by corporations, marketed as a response to the need to be flexible in the face of global competition… Companies…could no longer offer job security to employees and introduced 'employability' instead, as the new psychological contract. As such, it forms part of 'the new spirit of capitalism’ (Chertkovskaya, 2013, non-paginated)
  • 12. Targets, targets, targets • By the end of AY 14/15, UWS will achieve a graduate-level employment rate of 65% within the annual DLHE survey 2013-14 SFC-UWS Outcome Agreement • By the end of AY 14/15, UWS will achieve a minimum graduate-level employment rate of 75% for our graduates within 3 years of graduation’ 2013-14 SFC-UWS Outcome Agreement • The proportion of graduate professional/managerial employment will match (within 2%) or exceed average performance of post 1992 Scottish HEI in each subject area’ UWS LTAS V1.1, 5.4
  • 13. But employability… • ‘Employability…is about learning and the emphasis is less on ‘employ’ and more on ‘ability’. In essence, the emphasis is on developing critical, reflective abilities, with a view to empowering and enhancing the learner.’ (Harvey, quoted in Pegg, 2012: 4) • ‘Is clearly not the same as graduate employment rates’ (Knight & Yorke 2004: 9) • Nor is it… ‘something that can be quantified by any single measure. Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey is a measure of employment not employability’ (Cole & Tibby 2013: 6)
  • 14. The employability agenda Questioning the role of the University ‘*Employability+ is now claiming time on syllabi at the expense of academic subjects and inculcating market values at the expense of free and critical thinking’ (Sarson, 2013, non-paginated) ‘the public and democratic character of the university is undermined, while humanities and social sciences which, by their very nature, cannot attract market interest are marginalized’ (Panayota & Grollios, 2012: 317). Questioning the role of social science
  • 15. How do we square the circle? Key issues from Tibby (2012) • Disparity between students’ perception of employability and those of employers • Many students are not engaged with employability • Employers and students value work-experience but barriers exist in provision and access
  • 16. Understanding what employers want Most important factors considered when recruiting graduates Source: CBI. Learning to Grow - Education and Skills Survey 2012
  • 17. Understanding our students 0 20 40 60 80 Yes No Do you have a particular job/career path in mind after you finish your studies? (%) Hamilton Paisley
  • 18. Understanding our students Survey of L7 social science students undertaken in week 1
  • 19. Understanding our students Raising awareness: an employability VLE
  • 20. Understanding our students Employment and the social sciences
  • 21. Bridging the gap Learning in partnership
  • 22. Does it work? What students say The tasks have been interesting because they gave an actual taste of what a research is like, on all its levels, from organisation to practical issues such as funding or ethical approval …has given a good insight into real life problems and opportunities The research/inquiry based learning focus of the module has been great and grown my confidence in relation to independent study. …led to me becoming more aware as to what employability skills I have been developing whilst learning in other modules …made me reflect on my learning journey so far, and I now feel that it's easier to make connections between skills developed by doing different types of assessments and the skills sought out by employers
  • 23. Our new model
  • 24. Making employability ‘real’ Our employability-integrated assessment map
  • 25. Have we squared the circle? Returning to Tibby (2012) ---- Disparity between students’ perception of employability and those of employers Our solution: embed in the curriculum through employability- integrated assessment and partnership learning ---- Many students are not engaged with employability Our solution: embed in the curriculum through employability- integrated assessment and partnership learning ---- Employers and students value work-experience but barriers exist in provision and access Is WBL necessary? Can WRL be fully embedded in the curriculum?
  • 26. For critical friends To provide feedback, comments or to ask any questions, please contact: Dr Gordon Heggie Lecturer in Social Sciences University of the West of Scotland gordon.heggie2@uws.ac.uk Dr Neil McPherson Lecturer in Social Sciences University of the West of Scotland neil.mcpherson@uws.ac.uk