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Podcast: Embedding employability

Date: February 2 - 2024

Our latest podcast explores the challenges we face in embedding employability in our curricula, and the kinds of strategies and support that can benefit both educators and their students.

To address these issues, we take a look at a new toolkit focusing on pedagogy, assessment and curriculum content, designed to help students gain the knowledge, skills and experience they need to transition into their lives and careers after higher education.

That toolkit was developed through a QAA-funded Collaborative Enhancement Project examining Inclusive Employability Development through the Curriculum - a project supported by our podcast's guest contributors, Aranee Manoharan, Senior Associate Director for Careers & Employability at King's College London, and Gemma Kenyon, Head of Careers at City, University of London.

‘For me, embedding employability is about rethinking what education is actually for, what we're preparing students with, and thinking about how we support students across the whole student life cycle,’ says Aranee.

She emphasizes that the integration of employability at the heart of curricula is vital to underpin our future graduates' journeys towards becoming grounded, well-rounded, happy and professionally successful individuals - in jobs they enjoy and which enrich their lives.

‘When I think about what an inclusive curriculum should do for our students, it's preparing them for their lives,’ she says. ‘It's about preparing them to be resilient and adaptable, and to thrive in what is a very challenging, volatile, complex environment that they're going to be going into. It's about thinking about what high-impact pedagogies we can use to support students to get experiences within the curriculum, because we know that not every student can get an internship or a placement.’

She stresses that we need to adopt solutions that are both radical and practical: ‘It's really rethinking how you do education, the design of the curriculum, the content, bringing live case studies into the curriculum, bringing externals into the curriculum, so that the world is introduced to students in that space.’

This is an approach with which City's Gemma Kenyon clearly agrees.

‘This project builds on the work we've been doing to integrate employability into all of our undergraduate courses,’ she says. ‘We're very proud to have a very diverse student population, so it's a natural step for us to make sure the learning on those modules is all-inclusive, to enable our students to benefit, regardless of their backgrounds.’

Gemma underlines the value of this strategy to her students: ‘Embedding employability in the curriculum is in itself inclusive - because that's where our students are. Many of our students have long commutes to study, they're balancing lots of part-time work, they have caring responsibilities… We can't expect our students to have lots of time outside their studies to be able to dedicate to these activities. That's really the ethos behind what we've been doing to integrate employability in the curriculum.’

This point has also been stressed by Kate Daubney, who led this Collaborative Enhancement Project, and who has said that she hopes the toolkit will offer value in learning and teaching enhancements to both universities and colleges: ‘Students at these providers may experience more barriers to developing their employability and applying it to their career planning. So, there are aspects of the toolkit that will be particularly helpful to academic and careers educators in identifying barriers these students experience, and how to address that inclusively through curriculum.’

How to tune in 

QAA Membership podcasts can be found on Buzzsprout and other popular streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. On these platforms, you can explore our full catalogue of podcasts, covering topics including student transitions, experiences of pass/fail assessment, and neuroinclusivity.

You can find out more about our Collaborative Enhancement Projects on our website, including the others on the topic of employability and supporting students moving into the workplace.