A few thoughts as we cascade into another busy academic year …
October, events season is in full swing on campus. Across the country, University careers and employability staff are engaging with industry. For many of our students, this month offers a first look at the challenges of the 2019 job market. There's a bigger notion than ever that students have to stand out from a growingly competitive crowd. It has become essential that study is reinforced by an understanding of how the working world works.
Over the last three weeks, my institution has seen over 1200 students engage with part-time job fairs, welcomed over 150 employers to our graduate recruitment and placement fair and delivered bespoke Spotlight careers events offering industry insights from sector experts. The job fair machine rolls out with a comforting similarity to previous years but there's a shift change in the way that we are more eager than ever to learn from industry. Now, more than ever, we have to leverage employer relationships to give our students the best possible chance of becoming highly skilled graduates.
The employability message has to become common across all staff, not just business and employer facing teams. With Graduate Outcomes data on the horizon we are close to receiving our most widely accepted marker of just how well our students perform upon leaving University. Has the backdrop of TEF and growing talk of skills shortages reenergised professional services and academic staff to really think about the way we add value to study? There has never been a greater need to collaborate.
All too often, HE has an unintentional way of telling students what we think they want. Industry led collaboration gives us a form of endorsed quality to accurately keep the link between students and employers sustainable. If our employers are shaping our students into hireable workers, interns or placement staff they are ahead of the game when it comes to creating future managers and leaders.
Fascinating reading from two recent publications. Firstly, the ever insightful Prospects regional edition of 'What do graduates do'. Our biggest sign yet that there isn't a definitive UK graduate labour market. It is imperative that our Universities understand their role and responsibility to drive forward the local economies in which they sit. Advantage SME engagement and casual work labour markets?
Speaking fresh from the relaunch of an in-house version of my City's RISE SME business engagement initiative, we have to answer the call of local businesses. There is a real need for innovative staff, staff who can work cross discipline and adapt in the uncertain world of business. Our students want to work locally and see an opportunity to forge a future within the city they study by simply getting involved with jobs. We have to give our students the best possible chance of seeing then value of work to reinforce their learning. Whether we call it an internship, a placement, casual work or contracting, students simply need to work to truly prepare them for graduate employment.
Secondly, a thought provoking read in the recent Job Teaser ‘Blending Work Experience and Academic Learning’ resource. Solid talk of the necessity for work experience as the key driver for student learning. This is an exciting time, a time where we as student employment professionals have a real valid voice to help align teaching with the demands of industry. This is our chance to demonstrate impact of undergraduate student employment through employer led skills development to produce work ready talent.
Review the NASES Code of Practice for best practice on verifying employer relationships. NASES Value 1 – Employer Partnerships
Keep making the difference.
James Beighton: Employer Partnerships Officer (Student Employment) Sheffield Hallam University & NASES Executive Board Member