Employability resources

Employability resources for supporting curriculum activity including legislation and research, and employability messages and definitions.

Employability definitions

"Having a set of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that make a person more likely to secure, and be successful in their chosen occupation."
Sewell, P, in Hinchcliffe, R. (2001), "Nice work (if you can get it): Graduate employability in the arts and humanities.” The Developing Learning Organisations Project, Preston.

“Employability skills have been defined after extensive collaboration with business by the CBI. They are a set of attributes, skills and knowledge that all labour market participants should possess to ensure they have the capability of being effective in the workplace – to the benefit of themselves, their employer and the wider economy.”
CBI, 2010.

A fuller definition which acknowledges what the individual can control, what educators and advisers can influence, and the importance of context is as follows:

“In simple terms, employability is about being capable of getting and keeping fulfilling work. More comprehensively, employability is the capability to move self-sufficiently within the labour market to realise potential through sustainable employment. For the individual, employability depends on the knowledge, skills and attitudes they possess, the way they use those assets and present them to employers and the context (eg personal circumstances and labour market environment) within which they seek work.”
Hillage, J and Pollard, E, Research Report RR85, Department for Education and Employment, November 1998.

Legislation and research

Pedagogy for Employability  

Pegg et al (2012), HEA

This publication explores the policy and institutional context that frames the environment within which people work. We highlight the possibilities and constraints that operate in different national, institutional and departmental situations, which have a direct impact on the way teaching and learning takes place. We also give particular attention to the curriculum and learning and teaching practice. Read 'Pedagogy for Employability'.

Defining and developing your approach to employability: A framework for higher education institutions

Cole and Tibby (2013), HEA

This framework for employability has been developed following a summit delivered by the HEA and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). The Summit provided a forum for debate and created an agenda for action to support higher education providers. A key recommendation was for the development of a framework to support higher education institutions (HEIs) in embedding employability. Defining and developing your approach to employability is a framework which has been developed by the HEA and informed by feedback from those in the sector. Read 'Defining and Developing Your Approach to Employability'.

Towards a competency framework for student work-based learning

Jones/Warnock (2014), HEA

Whilst sandwich placements have been part of higher education degree programmes for many years, the sector is now seeing a proliferation of work-based learning experiences along with an increasing variety of interactions with employers.

Sandwich placements usually form part of the degree assessment, with clear guidelines on expectations. However, the proliferation of work experiences means that opportunities may be arranged where there is not a clear indication of the skills and competencies that a student can bring and the work that they may undertake.

This study is extremely relevant as it provides clarification of the competencies of students of different levels coming into placements thereby managing the expectations of both host and student and resulting in a more successful partnership.

The study focuses on biosciences, however, the methodology and the framework developed can be adapted and used in any discipline area. Read 'Towards a competency framework for student work-based learning'.

Measuring the impact of Pedagogy for Employability on employability policy and practice in higher education institutes

Owens/Tibby (2013), HEA

This publication is an impact study of our resource Pedagogy for employability, which identified pedagogic principles relevant to employability development.

Originally published in 2006, the resource was revised in 2011 to ensure approaches remained contemporary. The study shows that the resource had the greatest impact in the area of staff awareness and understanding of employability development. It also shows that the guide is influencing the higher education and further education sectors in both the UK and overseas. Read 'Measuring the impact report'.

Professional capabilities in non-vocational subject disciplines

Yorke et al (2013), HEA

This small-scale study within a single institution explored the relationship between retail employers’ wish that graduates exercise professionally relevant capabilities and a sample of curricula in non-vocational subjects.

The evidence from this study suggests that higher education and employers do not always share a commonality of understanding about the former’s efforts to develop graduates’ professional capabilities, and that ‘translation’ between one milieu and the other could prove beneficial to both parties. Read 'Professional capabilities in non-vocational subject disciplines'.

Enhancing employability through enterprise education

Owens/Tibby (2014), HEA

“Graduates need the skills, capabilities and attributes to enable them to be successful in an ever changing global economic environment. Increasingly, employers expect graduates to be innovative, adaptable, resilient, and flexible and have an enterprising mind-set. Enterprise education supports employability by enabling students to develop the characteristics, attributes and skills that will enable them to make effective contributions to the economy and society. Enterprise education clearly links to employability and as such, should be at the core of employability strategies…” Read 'Enhancing employability through enterprise education'.

Wilson Review of Business-University Collaboration

Download the Wilson Review.

Future fit: preparing graduates for the world of work

This report from CBI (Confederation of British Industry) and 'Universities UK' highlights the role HE institutions (including, but not exclusively, through their careers services), employers and government can play in giving students the best possible opportunities to build, refine and articulate their employability skills. View the Future Fit report.

The employment of graduates within small and medium-sized firms in England

This reports focuses on a research study prompted by the uneven distribution of graduates between small and large businesses. In particular, it explores the main drivers or impediments to the recruitment of graduates by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). View the SME report.

Enterprise and entrepreneurship education

This report is intended to be of practical help to those working with students in higher education to foster their skills in enterprise and entrepreneurship. View guidance for UK higher education providers.

Key employability messages

What messages should you be communicating to your students and graduates?

  • Take responsibility for your own employability.
  • Gain as much useful work and related experience as possible while at university. There are lots of opportunities available.
  • Begin careers planning as soon as possible and continue to research the labour market and your potential within it throughout your working life.
  • Take full advantage of careers and employability services.

UWE Bristol careers

We are here to support students with their career goals. Read more about our careers coaching.

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