Want to enhance graduate employability but don’t have the time? Try these simple ideas right away!

Blog by Ewan Wallace & Cecily Wright
Ewan Wallace 3   Cecily

Whether you agree with it or not, student expectations of universities are changing, and employment and employability are high on the list. A recent survey suggests students rank high quality teaching as the most important reason when choosing a university, and over 50% believe a high graduate employment rate is a hallmark of quality teaching.

While employment and employability are two different things, it is clear that one of our roles is to equip students with characteristics that are valued beyond a specific discipline.

With the University of Adelaide Employability Framework on the horizon, now is a great chance to have a look at how you can inject something quick to enhance graduate employability in your course. To help, we’ve put together a few ideas that won’t eat into your research time.

Invite industry professionals or past students to connect

Invite industry professionals as student mentors on projects, provide case studies, and simulated work environments. Zoom virtual classroom facilitates collaboration and communication in “real” time meaning that industry professionals can join discussions to answer questions and provide an authentic work-based context for students who are unable to be physically present in the work location. Likewise, industry professionals can be included as guests in discussion forums providing work place context as students plan and participate in projects, complete case studies and role play in simulated work environments.

Know any recent graduates that are keen to give back to the university community? Like industry professionals, recent graduates can share valuable experiences with your current students. Invite a panel to answer questions about their approach to seeking employment, how the industry is changing, and what current students can do to prepare.

Help students learn through practice

Create a mini role play scenario and provide students with different roles and competing agendas for an authentic learning experience. It only needs to go for 5 minutes for your students to get a sense of applying their knowledge in a dynamic work environment.

Introduce this in a lecture and give your students an opportunity to reflect how they went via Echo360 and you have just introduced active learning to your lecturing repertoire.

If you can’t find time in a lecture or tutorial, consider setting up groups online and have them use the collaboration tool or discussion forum for an increasingly authentic workplace experience.

Your students will relish the opportunity to use empathy and work interdependently.

Drop in a reflection blog

Students require support to reflect on their personal development in terms of skills valued by employers. Are they able to think critically and creatively to solve problems? Do they collaborate effectively when working as part of a team? Are they flexible and resilient and able to show initiative?  Blogging is one way for students to collect their thoughts and reflect on the development of their personal qualities and skills.

Options for blogging in My Uni include the following:

  • Create an assignment in which students upload the URL of their blog which can be written outside of MyUni on a website such as Blogger. MyUni then takes a snapshot of the blog at the time of submission. The person marking can then go to the live blog to read and return to the snapshot page to add comments via Speedgrader.  If a rubric is attached, this is available in Speedgrader.
  • Create a MyUni Group set for student blogs and the same number of groups as the number of students in the course, allowing only 1 person per group. In this way each student can create a new page in their own personal group for each blog post.

Encourage students to get in contact with Careers Service

Careers Service offer a range of services for students including preparing for employment, career direction advice, face to face workshops, and online short courses via the career hub. Considering our Careers Service team has won national and now international awards for their services, it’s worth encouraging all students to drop into Careers Service, or visit the website and check out the events and programs on offer.

Talk to your students

Some great advice I once received was ‘never let an opportunity to teach pass you by’. Whether it’s a large lecture theatre, in small group work, or just strolling through the hub, don’t be afraid to throw in an anecdote about the transfer of skills from the tutorial to industry if the opportunity presents itself. You would be surprised just how engaged students are with your advice on employable skills no matter how uninteresting you think they sound.

If you like any of these and want to chat more about enhancing employability in your course get in touch with a Learning Designer. Alternatively make a booking for someone from our team to come to you.

Ewan Wallace and Cecily Wright are Learning Designers at the University of Adelaide. 

For information about the development of employability skills in the University of Adelaide context please contact Sharon Scott, Manager Student Employability.

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