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Information literacy:
what it means for employability
Stéphane Goldstein
InformAll
It’s off to work we go: the role of
universities and employers in developing
digital skills for employability
An event organised by the UCL Digital
Literacies Special Interest Group
9 June 2016
• Devising a graduate employability
lens for SCONUL’s Seven Pillars of
Information Literacy
• Lens is backed by a review of
sources on perceptions and
understanding of employability
• Published December 2015
Background
2
A conventional definition:
“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.”
Cole & Tibby (2013), for HEA
What is employability?
3
• Not just about getting a job or possessing a set of skills /
attributes…
• Also about lifelong learning and development, in the workplace
and beyond
• Other factors come into play, not directly related to specific job
requirements: self-awareness, self-belief, deploying learning
strategies…
• Employability related to the characteristics of graduate identity,
e.g. as uncovered in an investigation of employers in East Anglia:
value, intellect and social engagement, as well as performance
(Hinchliffe and Jolly, 2011)
But is it more than that?
4
What graduates need to know to build and develop their own
careers, and navigate their way through the ever-evolving and
highly competitive world of work:
• Self-management
• Career-building skills (e.g. finding and using information about labour
markets, locating and applying for work, creating professional relationships…)
– some evidence that new graduates aren’t very good at this
• Implies a lifelong, proactive commitment
• Wending a way through complex career paths that are often enmeshed with
other aspects of own lives
• Adapting to and exploiting rapidly-changing nature of work, to the labour
market of the future
The changing nature of work
5
• Review of reports, from 8 organisations, which included
employability frameworks
– Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Universities UK (UUK), National Union
of Students (NUS), Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE),
Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of
Graduate Recruiters (AGR) and, in the USA, National Association of Colleges
and Employers (NACE)
• Strong focus on generic, soft attributes and skills
• Technical, job-specific skills and knowledge about particular
employment sector are not a prominent feature
The view from employers
(and others at the interface between HE and employment)
6
• “The term ‘employability’ or ‘employability skills’ is used to refer to a
set of generic softer skills such as self-management, teamworking and
communication. Much work has been done in defining what
employability means as well as in establishing a list of the
competencies that are central to being employable. Although the term
employability skills is commonly used, it is evident from our research
that employability is not solely concerned with the possession of a
certain set of skills”.
CBI also stresses the notion of a ‘positive attitude’:
• “A ‘can-do’ approach, a readiness to take part and contribute,
openness to new ideas and a drive to make these happen”
CBI (2007)
Example: what the CBI says
7
• Employability attributes most commonly cited as desirable:
• Other attributes include self-management / time management /
resilience, analytical skills, literacy / use of English and job-
specific skills
• Information or digital literacy do not explicitly feature
8
- Teamworking
- Communication (oral and/or written)
The two above attributes are the only ones flagged up by all
8 organisations
- Problem-solving
- Planning and organisation
- Business / customer awareness and customer handling
- Numeracy
- IT skills
Main employability attributes
• Employers’ concerns about graduate entrants to labour market:
⁃ 44% dissatisfied with business/customer awareness competencies, 25% with
self-management, 20% with teamwork (CBI/NUS 2010)
⁃ 53% dissatisfied with business/customer awareness competencies, 51% with
foreign language skills, 37% with international cultural awareness, 37% with
relevant work experience, 31% with self-management/resilience (CBI 2014)
• Where employers are happier:
⁃ 95% satisfied/very satisfied with graduates’ use of IT, 90% with basic
numeracy, 85% with positive attitude to work (CBI/NUS 2010)
⁃ 98% satisfied/very satisfied with graduates’ use of IT, 91% with technical
skills, 86% with basic numeracy, 85% with analysis skills (CBI 2014)
⁃ On a scale of 1 to 13 for satisfaction with graduate recruits, employers score
10.82 for team working, 10.63 for analytical/quantitative skills, 10.48 for
problem-solving, 10.42 for initiative, 10.39 for work ethic (NACE 2012)
9
Attributes in practice
Employers’ perceptions – selected findings from different surveys
10
Information literacy in the workplace (1)
Library at RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects , London
• Growing body of scholarly/empirical research on IL in the workplace
charted in two recent literature reviews
– Williams, Cooper & Wavell (2014) and Inskip (2014)
• A useful definition of IL adapted for the workplace, which summarises
the relationship to employability:
“A set of abilities for employees to recognize when information is
needed and to locate, evaluate, organize and use information
effectively, as well as the abilities to create, package and present
information effectively to the intended audience. Simply speaking, it is
a set of abilities for employees to interact with information when they
need to address any business issues or problems at work.”
(Cheuk, 2008)
11
Information literacy in the workplace (2)
• Workplace information environments are rather different from
those in academia
– Workplaces are ‘messier’ than scholarly learning environments,
characterised by business challenges that are often less linear, less
predictable and more open-ended
– In the workplace, greater emphasis on people and networks as sources
of information and knowledge
– IL as acquired at university does not necessarily translate well to
business settings – this can be disconcerting for students who need to
adapt rapidly to unfamiliar, non-academic information practices
• IL’s contribution to employability should be driven by factors and
requirements reflecting the reality and culture of the workplace,
and the contextual nature of workplace information practices
12
Information literacy in the workplace (3)
A worrying view from employers in the US:
“When we specifically asked employers to assess how adept new
graduates were at finding and using information, many noted that
the online proficiency they had prized at the recruiting stage
turned out, in many cases, to be both limited and limiting.”
Concern expressed by employers about competencies they feel
that graduates lack:
• Engaging team members during the research process
• Retrieving information using a variety of formats
• Finding patterns and making connections
• Exploring a topic thoroughly
(Head, 2013)
13
Information literacy in the workplace (4)
Business and customer awareness
• Keeping proactively informed about the practices, expectations and
goals of employers; the dynamics of the workplace; the evolving
nature of the business environments in which enterprises operate
and the needs of customers and users.
• Requires an ability to seek out, interpret, share and present
information / data which exists in many forms, and which tends to be
specific to given business environments.
• New graduates, with little or no experience of employment, may find
this attribute challenging, and employer surveys suggest that there
are concerns about graduates’ often poor grasp of the business
environment and what this entails.
14
Alignment between IL and employability (1)
Coping with workplace complexities
• Understanding that the information
needs of enterprises are complex,
often messy and largely determined
by the nature of their services,
products and organisational
cultures.
• Adaptability is therefore important
to cope with a context-specificity
that varies from enterprise to
enterprise.
15
Alignment between IL and employability (2)
Analytical skills and problem-solving
• Using, handling, interpreting and analysing information /
data, to resolve business questions and problems.
• Bears some similarity to the skills and competencies
necessary in higher education – but the key distinction is that,
in the world of employment, such know-how is deployed for
the purpose of providing practical, timely, innovative and
cost-effective solutions to meet organisational goals.
16
Alignment between IL and employability (3)
Ability to work socially
• Making use of people (colleagues, associates, clients and
others) and teams as valuable sources of organisational
information and knowledge; and sharing information as
appropriate.
• Implies an aptitude to work collectively and to network
imaginatively, seeking and obtaining information, and tapping
into corporate knowledge, in ways which may be less formal
and more diffuse than is the case in student settings.
17
Alignment between IL and employability (4)
Career management and lifelong learning capacity
Keeping informed about career opportunities, the evolving
nature of work, and the adaptability and resilience needed to
cope with that, as a means of charting career paths and defining
lifelong learning and self-development preferences.
18
Alignment between IL and employability (5)
19
In conclusion…
• Information literacy is relevant to the
workplace. It is not explicitly recognised
as a graduate employability attribute,
but it is inherent to a range of well-
recognised competencies
• The challenge is to explain how IL relates
to these competencies, and how it
contributes to the reality of workplace
culture and practices
• CBI (2007), ‘Time well spent: embedding employability in work experience’ –
http://www.educationandemployers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/time-well-spent-cbi.pdf
• CBI (2014), ‘Gateway to Growth – CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2014’ –
http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/2809181/embargo_00.01_4_july_cbi_pearson_education_and_skills_
survey_2014.pdf
• CBI / National Union of Students (2010), ‘Working towards the future: making the most of your
time in higher education’ –
http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/1121431/cbi_nus_employability_report_march_2011.pdf
• Cheuk, B. (2008), ‘Delivering business value through information literacy in the workplace’, Libri,
58(3), pp. 137-143
• Cole, D. and Tibby, M. (2013), ‘Defining and developing your approach to employability: a
framework for higher education institutions’, Higher Education Academy –
https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/resources/employability_framework.pdf
• Head, A. et al (2013), ‘What information competencies matter in today’s workplace?’, Library and
Information Research, 37 (114), pp. 74-104 –
http://www.lirgjournal.org.uk/lir/ojs/index.php/lir/article/view/557
References (1)
20
• Hinchliffe, G.W. and Jolly, A. (2011), ‘Graduate identity and employability’, British Educational
Research Journal, 37(4), pp. 564-584 –
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1080/01411926.2010.482200/abstract
• Inskip C. (2014), ‘Information literacy is for life, not just for a good degree: a literature review’,
CILIP – www.cilip.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/IL in the workplace literature review Dr C
Inskip June 2014. doc.pdf
• NACE (2012), ‘Job Outlook 2013’ – http://career.sa.ucsb.edu/files/docs/handouts/job-outlook-
2013.pdf
• SCONUL (December 2015), ‘A graduate employability lens for the SCONUL Seven Pillars of
Information Literacy’ –
http://www.sconul.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Employability%20lens%20and%20report.
pdf
• Williams, D., Cooper, K. and Wavell C. (2014) ‘Information Literacy in the Workplace – an
annotated bibliography’, Robert Gordon University, Institute for Management, Governance and
Society (IMaGeS), in association with InformAll – http://www.researchinfonet.org/wp-
content/uploads/2014/01/Workplace-IL-annotated-bibliography.pdf
References (2)
21
22
Stéphane Goldstein
sg@informall.org.uk
https://www.informall.org.uk
@stephgold7
Thank you for your attention!

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Information Literacy:what it means for employability

  • 1. 1 Information literacy: what it means for employability Stéphane Goldstein InformAll It’s off to work we go: the role of universities and employers in developing digital skills for employability An event organised by the UCL Digital Literacies Special Interest Group 9 June 2016
  • 2. • Devising a graduate employability lens for SCONUL’s Seven Pillars of Information Literacy • Lens is backed by a review of sources on perceptions and understanding of employability • Published December 2015 Background 2
  • 3. A conventional definition: “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.” Cole & Tibby (2013), for HEA What is employability? 3
  • 4. • Not just about getting a job or possessing a set of skills / attributes… • Also about lifelong learning and development, in the workplace and beyond • Other factors come into play, not directly related to specific job requirements: self-awareness, self-belief, deploying learning strategies… • Employability related to the characteristics of graduate identity, e.g. as uncovered in an investigation of employers in East Anglia: value, intellect and social engagement, as well as performance (Hinchliffe and Jolly, 2011) But is it more than that? 4
  • 5. What graduates need to know to build and develop their own careers, and navigate their way through the ever-evolving and highly competitive world of work: • Self-management • Career-building skills (e.g. finding and using information about labour markets, locating and applying for work, creating professional relationships…) – some evidence that new graduates aren’t very good at this • Implies a lifelong, proactive commitment • Wending a way through complex career paths that are often enmeshed with other aspects of own lives • Adapting to and exploiting rapidly-changing nature of work, to the labour market of the future The changing nature of work 5
  • 6. • Review of reports, from 8 organisations, which included employability frameworks – Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Universities UK (UUK), National Union of Students (NUS), Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE), Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) and, in the USA, National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) • Strong focus on generic, soft attributes and skills • Technical, job-specific skills and knowledge about particular employment sector are not a prominent feature The view from employers (and others at the interface between HE and employment) 6
  • 7. • “The term ‘employability’ or ‘employability skills’ is used to refer to a set of generic softer skills such as self-management, teamworking and communication. Much work has been done in defining what employability means as well as in establishing a list of the competencies that are central to being employable. Although the term employability skills is commonly used, it is evident from our research that employability is not solely concerned with the possession of a certain set of skills”. CBI also stresses the notion of a ‘positive attitude’: • “A ‘can-do’ approach, a readiness to take part and contribute, openness to new ideas and a drive to make these happen” CBI (2007) Example: what the CBI says 7
  • 8. • Employability attributes most commonly cited as desirable: • Other attributes include self-management / time management / resilience, analytical skills, literacy / use of English and job- specific skills • Information or digital literacy do not explicitly feature 8 - Teamworking - Communication (oral and/or written) The two above attributes are the only ones flagged up by all 8 organisations - Problem-solving - Planning and organisation - Business / customer awareness and customer handling - Numeracy - IT skills Main employability attributes
  • 9. • Employers’ concerns about graduate entrants to labour market: ⁃ 44% dissatisfied with business/customer awareness competencies, 25% with self-management, 20% with teamwork (CBI/NUS 2010) ⁃ 53% dissatisfied with business/customer awareness competencies, 51% with foreign language skills, 37% with international cultural awareness, 37% with relevant work experience, 31% with self-management/resilience (CBI 2014) • Where employers are happier: ⁃ 95% satisfied/very satisfied with graduates’ use of IT, 90% with basic numeracy, 85% with positive attitude to work (CBI/NUS 2010) ⁃ 98% satisfied/very satisfied with graduates’ use of IT, 91% with technical skills, 86% with basic numeracy, 85% with analysis skills (CBI 2014) ⁃ On a scale of 1 to 13 for satisfaction with graduate recruits, employers score 10.82 for team working, 10.63 for analytical/quantitative skills, 10.48 for problem-solving, 10.42 for initiative, 10.39 for work ethic (NACE 2012) 9 Attributes in practice Employers’ perceptions – selected findings from different surveys
  • 10. 10 Information literacy in the workplace (1) Library at RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects , London
  • 11. • Growing body of scholarly/empirical research on IL in the workplace charted in two recent literature reviews – Williams, Cooper & Wavell (2014) and Inskip (2014) • A useful definition of IL adapted for the workplace, which summarises the relationship to employability: “A set of abilities for employees to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, organize and use information effectively, as well as the abilities to create, package and present information effectively to the intended audience. Simply speaking, it is a set of abilities for employees to interact with information when they need to address any business issues or problems at work.” (Cheuk, 2008) 11 Information literacy in the workplace (2)
  • 12. • Workplace information environments are rather different from those in academia – Workplaces are ‘messier’ than scholarly learning environments, characterised by business challenges that are often less linear, less predictable and more open-ended – In the workplace, greater emphasis on people and networks as sources of information and knowledge – IL as acquired at university does not necessarily translate well to business settings – this can be disconcerting for students who need to adapt rapidly to unfamiliar, non-academic information practices • IL’s contribution to employability should be driven by factors and requirements reflecting the reality and culture of the workplace, and the contextual nature of workplace information practices 12 Information literacy in the workplace (3)
  • 13. A worrying view from employers in the US: “When we specifically asked employers to assess how adept new graduates were at finding and using information, many noted that the online proficiency they had prized at the recruiting stage turned out, in many cases, to be both limited and limiting.” Concern expressed by employers about competencies they feel that graduates lack: • Engaging team members during the research process • Retrieving information using a variety of formats • Finding patterns and making connections • Exploring a topic thoroughly (Head, 2013) 13 Information literacy in the workplace (4)
  • 14. Business and customer awareness • Keeping proactively informed about the practices, expectations and goals of employers; the dynamics of the workplace; the evolving nature of the business environments in which enterprises operate and the needs of customers and users. • Requires an ability to seek out, interpret, share and present information / data which exists in many forms, and which tends to be specific to given business environments. • New graduates, with little or no experience of employment, may find this attribute challenging, and employer surveys suggest that there are concerns about graduates’ often poor grasp of the business environment and what this entails. 14 Alignment between IL and employability (1)
  • 15. Coping with workplace complexities • Understanding that the information needs of enterprises are complex, often messy and largely determined by the nature of their services, products and organisational cultures. • Adaptability is therefore important to cope with a context-specificity that varies from enterprise to enterprise. 15 Alignment between IL and employability (2)
  • 16. Analytical skills and problem-solving • Using, handling, interpreting and analysing information / data, to resolve business questions and problems. • Bears some similarity to the skills and competencies necessary in higher education – but the key distinction is that, in the world of employment, such know-how is deployed for the purpose of providing practical, timely, innovative and cost-effective solutions to meet organisational goals. 16 Alignment between IL and employability (3)
  • 17. Ability to work socially • Making use of people (colleagues, associates, clients and others) and teams as valuable sources of organisational information and knowledge; and sharing information as appropriate. • Implies an aptitude to work collectively and to network imaginatively, seeking and obtaining information, and tapping into corporate knowledge, in ways which may be less formal and more diffuse than is the case in student settings. 17 Alignment between IL and employability (4)
  • 18. Career management and lifelong learning capacity Keeping informed about career opportunities, the evolving nature of work, and the adaptability and resilience needed to cope with that, as a means of charting career paths and defining lifelong learning and self-development preferences. 18 Alignment between IL and employability (5)
  • 19. 19 In conclusion… • Information literacy is relevant to the workplace. It is not explicitly recognised as a graduate employability attribute, but it is inherent to a range of well- recognised competencies • The challenge is to explain how IL relates to these competencies, and how it contributes to the reality of workplace culture and practices
  • 20. • CBI (2007), ‘Time well spent: embedding employability in work experience’ – http://www.educationandemployers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/time-well-spent-cbi.pdf • CBI (2014), ‘Gateway to Growth – CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2014’ – http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/2809181/embargo_00.01_4_july_cbi_pearson_education_and_skills_ survey_2014.pdf • CBI / National Union of Students (2010), ‘Working towards the future: making the most of your time in higher education’ – http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/1121431/cbi_nus_employability_report_march_2011.pdf • Cheuk, B. (2008), ‘Delivering business value through information literacy in the workplace’, Libri, 58(3), pp. 137-143 • Cole, D. and Tibby, M. (2013), ‘Defining and developing your approach to employability: a framework for higher education institutions’, Higher Education Academy – https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/resources/employability_framework.pdf • Head, A. et al (2013), ‘What information competencies matter in today’s workplace?’, Library and Information Research, 37 (114), pp. 74-104 – http://www.lirgjournal.org.uk/lir/ojs/index.php/lir/article/view/557 References (1) 20
  • 21. • Hinchliffe, G.W. and Jolly, A. (2011), ‘Graduate identity and employability’, British Educational Research Journal, 37(4), pp. 564-584 – http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1080/01411926.2010.482200/abstract • Inskip C. (2014), ‘Information literacy is for life, not just for a good degree: a literature review’, CILIP – www.cilip.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/IL in the workplace literature review Dr C Inskip June 2014. doc.pdf • NACE (2012), ‘Job Outlook 2013’ – http://career.sa.ucsb.edu/files/docs/handouts/job-outlook- 2013.pdf • SCONUL (December 2015), ‘A graduate employability lens for the SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy’ – http://www.sconul.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Employability%20lens%20and%20report. pdf • Williams, D., Cooper, K. and Wavell C. (2014) ‘Information Literacy in the Workplace – an annotated bibliography’, Robert Gordon University, Institute for Management, Governance and Society (IMaGeS), in association with InformAll – http://www.researchinfonet.org/wp- content/uploads/2014/01/Workplace-IL-annotated-bibliography.pdf References (2) 21

Editor's Notes

  1. Abstract from Hinchliffe and Jolly paper (2011): “This paper develops the concept of graduate identity as a way of deepening the understanding of graduate employability. It does this through presenting research in which over 100 employers in East Anglia were asked to record their perceptions of graduates in respect of their employability. The findings suggest a composite and complex graduate identity, depending on employer size and sector. There is no one fixed identity for graduates. Nevertheless, certain themes emerged that seriously put into question the traditional model of graduate employability comprising skills, competencies and attributes. What emerges is a four-stranded concept of identity that comprises value, intellect, social engagement and performance. Thus, when assessing the potential of graduates, performance is not the only criteria that employers take into account. Moreover, the four elements of identity are by no means independent of each other but are expected to interpenetrate producing a composite identity, with different employers emphasising different facets of this identity.”
  2. Characteristics of evolving nature of work as picked out by draft Jisc report on 'Deepening digital know-how: building digital talent’ (Helen Beetham): less secure, more casualised more entrepreneurial fragmented in terms of attention, tasks, work-time and work-space multiple and hybrid dislocated from traditional workplaces, often characterised by home working automated or at risk from automation
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