I have spent a number of years working in employability within medicine and health and have faced such resistance relating to employability as, ‘why do we need to worry about employability - everyone will get a job?’.
Such a comment is perhaps based on the notion that employability is just about the job at the end of the course, reinforced by the metrics used to ‘measure’ employability. Everybody appears to agree that employability encompasses much more than the acquisition of personal skills and attributes, and is influenced by a huge range of factors.
Nature AND nurture
The complexity of employability requires initiatives to support a nature and nurture approach. Endless discussions on ‘skills’ or ‘attributes’ loses sight of the wider perspective of employability.
Acknowledging that employability is beyond innate characteristics makes employability everybody’s business rather than something that is ‘not my job’.
A nurturing approach to employability is required from day one of a student’s journey so that they can truly maximise their potential relating to employability and career development beyond graduation.
Fostering an authentic, holistic approach to employability with explicit links from the curriculum, employability events, personal attributes and life/political/economic events is vital. Such an approach to employability will maximise the engagement of students and academics in employability and in turn the metrics will look after themselves!
Life long journey
Employability is a life long journey and does not finish at graduation. Without having genuine student engagement in employability during their studies – they will not be adequately prepared to maximise their personal and professional development and career progression.
There is a moral and ethical argument that we should be facilitating student engagement and ownership of their individual employability throughout their studies and beyond. In addition, graduate job satisfaction and progression is even more important with data now being collected 15 months after graduation rather than six.
Within my employability roles I have developed a number of initiatives to address the complexities of employability to provide an authentic, holistic approach. MyEvolution is an example of a project that addresses the key issues identified within employability. MyEvolution provides a tool to facilitate student and academic engagement to maximise the individual’s employability potential. For more information and details on MyEvolution see my chapter in the forthcoming Advance HE publication Enhancing Graduate Employability: A Case Study Compendium.
‘Enhancing Graduate Employability: A Case Study Compendium’ is a collection of case studies representing a range of creative responses to the challenges of embedding and extending employability in the student experience. ‘Enhancing Graduate Employability’ will be published in full later this month.
Booking for Advance HE's Employability Symposium 2020: Breaking the mould - 22 April 2020 - is now open.
Lisa Taylor is Associate Dean for Employability for the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of East Anglia and is passionate about employability. Lisa has developed innovative and widely adopted employability initiatives, presented her employability work at several conferences and has published a book entitled “How to Develop your Healthcare Career”.