Beyond employability - developing graduate attributes


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Current narratives in HE are moving beyond a narrow focus on securing employment for students to include them developing a wider and more holistic set of 'attributes'. This brief presentation summarises this trend and explore some of the challenges and future trends that may result.

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Beyond employability - developing graduate attributes

  1. 1. Beyond ‘employability’ - developing graduate attributes 24th March 2014 Louis Coiffait @LouisMMCoiffait Head of Research, OCEA and Editor, Blue Skies ( and Open Ideas (
  2. 2. Learning as we teach; e-books, an overview l 21/11/2013 2 Agenda  A little context, international and UK  Different definitions of ‘employability’  Examples of ‘graduate attributes’  Beyond graduate attributes
  3. 3. Reminding ourselves of the current context Why might ‘employability’ matter around the world?  Glimmers of recovery after 2008 global recession  Plan A austerity, reforms to make English HE more ‘responsive’  UK Plc, the (6th) globally competitive knowledge economy?  2030 global labour force of 3.5 billion, 2.9 billion today  Projected shortfall of 40 million university-educated workers by 2020  60% of global labour force growth from India, South Asia and Africa McKinsey
  4. 4. Reminding ourselves of the current context Why might employability matter in the UK? BBC/ONS
  5. 5. UKCES – a skills-based approach Different definitions Individuals with ‘employability skills’ should have eight attributes: UKCES
  6. 6. Providers should follow 6 principles to embed employability: 1. Based on real workplace practice 2. Experiential 3. Personal 4. Reflective 5. A structured and integrated process 6. Strong institutional leadership and resources UKCES – a skills-based approach Different definitions
  7. 7. HEA - pedagogy for employability Different definitions “a set of achievements, - skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy” Providers encouraged to; 1. embed effective employability practice within the curriculum 2. develop institutional level frameworks 3. develop strategic approaches to employability 4. support the graduate enterprise agenda (see NACUE) HEA
  8. 8. ‘Career readiness’ in the USA Different definitions e.g. ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)  WorkKeys credentials measure hard, cognitive "real world" skills 1. Applied Mathematics 2. Locating Information 3. Reading for Information  NCRC Plus ranks individuals’ soft skills 1. Work Discipline: Productivity, dependability 2. Teamwork: Tolerance, communication, attitude 3. Customer Service Orientation: Interpersonal skills, perseverance 4. Managerial Potential: Persuasion, enthusiasm, problem solving ACT
  9. 9. USA Partnership for 21st Century Skills Different definitions
  10. 10. Some other related agendas and narratives Different definitions  (social) enterprise and entrepreneurship  Creativity  Service learning and volunteering  Work-related learning (work experience, sandwich courses etc.)  (Global) citizenship  Wellbeing  Sustainability  Personalised learning  Careers guidance / management  Values
  11. 11. Queen Mary Statement of Graduate Attributes Examples of ‘graduate attributes’ Seven commitments to students. Three institution-wide ‘Vision attributes’ at the heart of teaching and learning across the institution as a whole: - Engage critically with knowledge - Have a global perspective - Learn continuously in a changing world Four disciplinary/departmental ‘Realisation attributes’: - Rounded intellectual development - Clarity of communication - Research capacity - Information expertise
  12. 12. University of Aberdeen’s Graduate Attributes Examples of ‘graduate attributes’ “…a wide-ranging set of qualities which you will develop during your time as a student, in preparation for employment, further study and citizenship.” - Academic excellence - Critical thinking and effective communication - Learning and personal development - Active citizenship
  13. 13. What’s new here? Examples of graduate attributes Broader focus on individual outcomes, beyond attainment or employment But also achieves institutional and societal outcomes Not new, but UK a leader (see BIS/i-graduate Follows trends and different stakeholders over time e.g. see current by QAA Scotland Variable policy and practice, different interpretations by actors See Barrie Generic versus specific – to the institution, faculty, educator or student Allows for differentiation (and competition)
  14. 14. Where next? Beyond graduate attributes  Funding follows learners in England, 4 UK nations diverging  Increasingly competitive and marketised system  Key Information Set (KIS)  Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)  Growing focus on outcomes, but risks of over-simplification; e.g. education = employment = salary / economic growth  Yes one way of making a university distinctive and attractive  But the major implications (and potential) for teaching and learning  Lifelong learning; before, outside and after HE  Improving student experience and outcomes – flourishing, ownership
  15. 15. Thank you! Louis Coiffait @LouisMMCoiffait …comments and questions?