Embedding Employability

Background / Rationale

“Employability, though a term not used until recently, has clearly been on the agenda of higher education for some considerable time” (Mantz York and Peter T Knight, Embedding Employability in the Curriculum, 2004).

This is even more the case given the reform of the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (DLHE) and the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Through Go Beyond the University have developed the Swansea University Promise to students and Employability Learning Outcomes (ELOs) which will be embedded in all programmes giving equality of access and opportunity to all students.  An outline of the Promise and the Employability Learning Outcomes will be available after March 2018. These ELOs, devised by careers guidance specialists within the Academy, are based on DOTS (Law & Watts, 1977 and New DOTS Law 2004) a developmental constructionist model of careers guidance involving four broad steps: Decision learning, Opportunity awareness, Transition learning and Self-awareness. The SEA Award and Career Journey Map  are also based on this theoretical framework to ensure clarity and consistency.

Embedding Swansea University’s Employability Learning Outcomes

It is clear that many of these learning outcomes are already embedded in and/or form components of some curricula.  However, for learning to take place to the extent that a student owns and can articulate these outcomes to opportunity providers, and use the learning when managing their careers throughout their lives, they may need to be embedded more firmly, be explicit and referred to frequently.

The HEA toolkit Embedding Employability in H.E.

The toolkit at outlines a four-stage process:

  • Defining Employability
  • Reviewing and Mapping
  • Action Planning
  • Monitoring, evaluating and measuring impact.

Defining:  There are various definitions of including those given as examples below. You may want to agree this with colleagues across your College/Department.

Mantz YorkeEmployability in higher education:  What it is – what it is not, 2006

  • A set of achievements – skills, understanding and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and  be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.

Hillage & Pollard – 1998

  • Gaining initial employment
  • Maintaining employment
  • Obtaining new employment if required

CBI – 2009

  • 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.

CareerEDGE Model – Pool and Sewell, 20007

  • Career development learning
  • Experience
  • Degree subject knowledge
  • Generic skills
  • Emotional intelligence

Reviewing and Mapping:  A toolkit to accompany the Employability Learning Outcomes is being developed and it is envisaged that this will include an Employability Learning Outcomes Mapping document. In the meantime, please contact your link Careers Adviser for help and support.

Action Planning:  It will be particularly important to include your SEA link Careers Adviser at this stage. Planning will of course need to take place well in advance. For Colleges/ Schools, plans will need to be endorsed by the Employability Director, Employability team and SEA representatives at the annual Service Level Agreement meeting (typically June / July each year) and incorporated into the annual action plan.

Monitoring, Evaluating and measuring impact:  This can take place in a number of ways; currently some aspects are undertaken by Colleges / Schools, and Swansea Employability Academy also measures the impact of services. The annual Service Level Agreement meeting will provide a key platform for setting objectives, reviewing progress and planning for the coming year.

Embedding modules of the SEA Award

Some Colleges / Schools have, for particular cohorts, chosen to embed one or more modules of the SEA Award into academic modules. Over the last five years, our experience shows that this works best where assessment of the academic module includes, and is based on, successful completion of the relevant module of the SEA Award. This clearly requires careful advance planning and agreement with SEA. The four modules of the SEA Award can of course also be taken independently in any order at any time during a student’s time at Swansea University, and can be highlighted to them in many ways, including in Personal Academic Tutor sessions. For more on the SEA Award see