Strategies for embedding employability into the curriculum

Strategies for embedding employability into the curriculum

There is a considerable degree of alignment between education for employability, and good student learning. A good curriculum and assessment design will enable a student  not just develop a deep understanding of the subject matter, but also to develop skills that may be transferred to other contexts. Graduates often find it difficult in an interview or application, to articulate the skills and attributes they have developed which are relevant to a new job. This may be because they are having difficulty in relating these attributes to other contexts or environments. Experiential or practice-based learning which employs real-world scenarios is therefore more effective because it enables students to match their learning experiences with professional roles.

In addition to this, a well designed curriculum will also show care for the development of strong self efficacy beliefs and an understanding of how they are learning and where they are going.   It is well established that students need to hear repeatedly, what it is intended that they learn in order to understand what that means, to know ways of judging what they have achieved, and to see how to improve. A curriculum with well aligned teaching and learning activities and assessments, with regular and effective feedback, will boost a student’s confidence in their ability to learn and progress.

Therefore, encouraging student employability may be a matter of  building upon good practice and ‘tuning’ or aligning learning and teaching activities/assessments to ensure that students are clear about how these are supporting their employability and progression. In addition to this it may also be useful to consider how learning can be transferred into other contexts, and through activities such as problem based learning or work based learning, support students in gaining a wider context to their curriculum. The support of reflection and personal development will also enable students to transfer their skills and attributes to other contexts whilst developing their ability to make plans for future development.

Models for embedding employability across the curriculum

There is no one model for embedding employability across the curriculum, but the following approaches may be adopted:

  • Employability through the whole curriculum
  • Employability within the core curriculum
  • Work based or work related learning incorporated as one of more components in the curriculum
  • Employability related modules within the curriculum
  • Work based or work related learning within the curriculum

For further information see ‘Embedding employability into the curriculum' (Yorke and Knight 2006)

Curriculum auditing and planning

A curriculum audit may be a good way to initiate the discussion and development of employability within the institute or subject team. This offers a way of mapping how and where employability related learning is taking place and where there may be gaps. It may offer reassurance that quite a lot of work is already being done in this area. In auditing curricula it may be more helpful to concentrate attention on the mandatory modules or core study pathways.

The Centre for Biosciences offers a useful development tool for mapping the curriculum and is suitable for all subject areas

Student Employability Profiles

The HEA, together with CIHE have developed a series of student employability profiles for most subject disciplines. Each profile identifies the employability related skill, competency and attributes that can acquired through the study of a particular subject, based in the subject benchmark statements and input from employers. These profiles cam be useful in employability audits, shaping the curriculum design process and for articulating the learning experience and its relationship to employability.

See the student employability profiles.