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Advance HE launches a new employability case study series for 2021, ‘Employability: breaking the mould’

28 Jan 2021 | Stuart Norton Stuart Norton, Advance HE senior advisor in learning and teaching, discusses the new case study series with Roger Dalrymple, Associate Dean at Oxford Brookes University, co-editor of the series

SN: We’re really pleased to launch the new compendium of case studies, inspired by the success of the last year’s series. While the global events of 2020 have called for a renewed creativity and flexibility in employability development in Higher Education, we very much feel the evidence of the new case study collection is that a step change in scope and vision was already well underway.

This collection brings together examples of virtual placements, the creation of placement opportunities actually within university settings themselves; and the empowering of students to map and plot their employability journeys or and work-related learning experiences.

RD: Since the legacy from pandemic disruption thus looks likely to extend into the medium or long- term, the new collection also brings some timely and very practical strategies to wider notice –these include embedding employability initiatives in all academic years of undergraduate and postgraduate study and cross-fertilizing the learning from employability initiatives between international and home students.

SN: Several of the case studies emphasise the key role of student ‘voice' and student ‘self-concept' in effective employability development – and, critically, points regarding broader inclusivity considerations come to the fore – with prompts for us all to consider and reflect upon such as the intersections of disadvantage that can profoundly influence a student’s employability development.

RD: Encouragingly, these case studies present insights from a sector already much preoccupied with tackling the challenges of what the World Economic Forum has styled, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, exacerbated as these may be by the current global health crisis. 

In terms of what new bearings and overall direction of travel for employability development are indicated by the case studies gathered here? We’d suggest that there’s plenty of evidence of a sector-wide convergence, mirrored in the case studies, of the concepts of employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

SN: It is a sector-wide priority to support learners in developing the mind-set and skills to adapt and flex in an uncertain future. Coping with uncertainty, identifying opportunities, actively making things happen, managing risk, networking, creative problem-solving, being strategically aware and acting independently are all aspects of enterprise education that can aid and address this and this is also recognised through a number of the case studies on employability.

RD: Perhaps one of the most important opportunities that has come from the global health pandemic is this more ambitious framing of employability as intrinsically linked to enterprise and entrepreneurship – providing scope to reaffirm the place of higher education in fully equipping students to succeed by realising their full potential as learners, thinkers, influencers, advocates, leaders, current and future educators and indeed citizens.

SN: In fact, this is focus for forthcoming symposium in April - Employability Symposium 2021: Employability, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship: solving wicked problems – where we will discuss the issues, look at our options and consider our changing role as educators. We welcome and encourage colleagues to join us or indeed submit a paper for the event.

So we very much hope you enjoy the collection and find the case studies to be illuminating and applicable to your own settings and practice. We look forward to continuing the conversation

 Read ‘Employability: breaking the mould’

Find out more about Advance HE's work to support institutions prepare graduates for life beyond higher education through effectively embedding employability both in the curriculum and within extra-curricular provision.

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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