The term ‘employability’ has been around for over 100 years, and, as you
might expect, has a number of definitions.
Perhaps the most well regarded definition in the UK HE sector is from the
Higher Education Academy: “a set of skills, knowledge and personal attributes
that make an individual more likely to secure and be successful in their chosen
occupation(s) to the benefit of themselves, the workforce, the community and the
One of the important aspects of employability, though, is that being
employable doesn’t guarantee success, but arguably does make it more likely.
What factors make a student more likely to be successful in the labour
market? Fugate et al (2004) investigated three:
- career identity
- personal adaptability
- social and human capital
Blasko et al (2002) identified a range of inputs that were associated with
successful graduate employment outcome, including:
- work experience
- extra-curricular activities
- overseas experiences
- early job search
- understanding job search techniques
Our Employability Strategy aims to
address all of these factors.
Perhaps the most comprehensive characterisation of employability is the
CareerEDGE model developed by Dacre and Sewell (2007). Drawing on a wide range
of research, they conclude that employability is affected by nine distinct
- career development learning
- work and life experience
- degree knowledge
- generic skills
- emotional intelligence
- reflection and evaluation
So, employability is much more than a set of ‘transferable skills’ and
knowing how to write a good CV!
Employability coincides with a range of desirable characteristics and
capabilities that arguably any student should acquire as they mature
intellectually and socially. In becoming employable, students also become more
able to take control of their lives, gain a sense of direction and are better
equipped to enter the wider community as confident individuals.
Many activities that promote employability such as work placements, peer
assessment, group projects, case studies and problem based learning also help
enrich subject learning. Using challenges and issues drawn from the world of
work often helps bring disciplines alive and enhances student engagement in
their academic work.
As well as wanting our graduates to be successful in their future careers,
contribute positively to the world and make full use of their Essex education,
our employability statistics are used by many as an indicator of how successful
we are as an institution. For example, most newspaper league tables (which
prospective students and their parents pay attention to) are formed, in part, by
our employability statistics.
Employers at the Heart of Employability? Conference 2015
The employability conference Employers at the Heart of Employability?
was held on 21 of September 2015, the first to be run by Essex and successfully
attracted 119 people including representatives from employers, Essex County
Council, University Court, local schools that are part of the Schools Membership
Plus and other universities career services.
- Discover more
about the conference, presentations and workshops that took
place on the day.