Friday, 8 June 2012

Employability strategy principles

At our Careers Advisory Committee last week Bob and I presented (amongst other things) the latest draft of our Employability Strategy. The feedback was OK but I need to sharpen it up a bit. None of the headline stuff is confidential so I thought I'd try and put down the objective and principles of the strategy here to try and clarify my thinking and hopefully generate some useful comments/discussion. So, as it currently stands...


To ensure our graduates have the extra dimension in order to make them the stand out choice for employers


  • engage the majority of students as opposed to the current minority
  • engage with students as early as possible in their undergraduate careers
  • ensure students participate in one main intervention to avoid the current situation of a minority of keen students monopolising the places on the majority of interventions
  • ensure that each intervention is accompanied by before and after support to ensure that students are appropriately prepared and effectively followed up
  • make access to as many opportunities as possible a competitive process (to identify best candidates and simulate selection processes – those unsuccessful can be signposted to alternatives)
And possibly something about our minimum programme provision in years 1, 2 and 3.

It's a work in progress. Any comments?


  1. Best of luck with the strategy. As requested, here are a few comments:

    Since there is no 'one size fits all', even popular moves are likely not to attract more than a relatively small percentage of students. To secure a majority engagement, a mixture of methods and access points are necessary, despite the potentially negative cost implication. That said, the biggest challenge will be attracting the students in the first place, which needn't involve too much extra cash/time investment. The tools beyond that could remain relatively fixed.

    Another important factor to consider is the type of language when trying to engage students. The words may be the only things getting in the way of an otherwise interested student.

    " early as possible in their undergraduate careers." - Absolutely! For many, I hear no sense of urgency and, perhaps, even a lack of realisation until much further down the line. A big deal.

    1. Thanks Martin. Really helpful comments. I completely agree re it's not one size fits all. What we are trying to do is to help students think about what they're passionate about (e.g. starting a business, getting involved in student radio, making the most of their part time work) and then a) prepare them for it and b) help them reflect on what they've learnt from it and how to articulate the learning.

      The language comment is interesting too - we're working on that with our Marketing and Comms team and a Graduate Recruitment Ad Agency onm this. More to follow...

      I've just thought of another principle to add (and I'll do this retrospectively - [probably not good blogging practice but I'll need it for reference) "employability is everyone's responsibility - departments, students, Students' Union - i.e. the whole institution, not just the Careers Service"

    2. Although aimed at young people pre-university, a recent iCeGS paper on language and careers is well worth a look:

      And I'm right behind you when it comes to the new principle that employability is everyone's responsibility. Individual and collective responsibility for the win.