Output 1: Literature review on employability and skills indicators
This paper sets out to identify where the research frontier sits on employability practice, intended as activities to improve employment outcomes of individual graduates and distribution of outcomes between privileged and disadvantaged groups of graduates. We examine three research questions: a) What are the key challenges for enhancing employability programmes and graduate outcomes? b) What is the stated or implied theory of change underpinning employability practice in HEIs? c) What methods are used to evaluate employability practice and how robust are they?
Interim report and webinar activity
Output 2: Employability pilot survey for informing the practice of HE professionals
This research strand gathers information from employers about what skills they require in the graduates they hire through bespoke pilot surveys. There are three main activities included in the research, firstly the identification of detailed criteria for shortlisting sectors, secondly conducting a series of employer focus groups and finally, the design and piloting of an innovative survey to inform universities of employability attributes important for recent graduates
- Activity 1: Identification of detailed criteria for shortlisting sectors. This led to a decision to focus on the banking and finance sector and on the public sector. While the banking and finance sector will be analysed by all partners, each partner will identify the part of the public sector which is of most interest to their context (education vs. health, etc.).
- Activity 2: Interviewing Employers via focus groups. Between November 2021 and April 2022, the University of Reading conducted a series of focus groups with employers in the banking, finance, accountancy and with the civil service, as well as with employers in other sectors. Outcomes are summarised in the draft report below. Further employer focus groups will be carried out by the other project partners in 2022-2023.
- Activity 3: Innovative employer survey. The University of Reading are now in the process of designing a dedicated survey of employers to inform academic and career services about the employability attributes that are important for the employment outcomes of recent graduates. The survey will be piloted in early 2023.
Output 3: Employability dashboard for informing the practice of HE professional
This research output explores the potential of using innovative AI and data science techniques to develop a dashboard that helps HE practitioners (both in student support units and in course planning) boost the employability of students.
The research consists of three main activities.
Activity 1: An initial exploration of the Catalan Graduate Outcomes survey in tandem with the Employers’ Satisfaction data. These two datasets allow for a periodical monitoring of graduates’ employment outcomes by HE course and the skills most demanded by the Catalan labour market.
Activity 2: The development of an «Insight Engine» with an interactive interface to make literature about employability more accessible by different professionals (i.e., researchers, HE practitioners, and policy makers).
Activity 3: The development of a tool for expert employability users, in which hypotheses to be tested, (expressed in a formal, domain-specific language (DSL) ), is converted to a data science / machine learning pipeline that outputs information on the hypothesis.
Output 4: Embedding Employability - Case Studies
There are many pockets of good practice in embedding employability in many HEIs, but often, the processes and mechanisms which support the development of these initiatives are lacking. Similarly, the direct incorporation of labour market intelligence into course and programme development is still rare in publicly funded HEIs.As a core part of this research project, we aim to compile a portfolio of best practice case studies.
These case studies will profile HEIs and programmes, which have successfully drawn on labour market intelligence to enhance their course and programme offering, embedding essential employability skills into the curriculum.
We are now actively seeking best practice case study examples from a range of UK and EU-based HEIs for inclusion in our best practice portfolio.