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How should universities teach employability?

March 2019

Students appear to respond more positively when employability is taught with a skills-based, as opposed to theoretical, focus - but the question of who should teach it remains less clear

Key findings

  • Students were more satisfied with modules teaching employability via skills-based methods, as opposed to theory-oriented tuition.
  • The practical components favoured by students included aspects of the labour market relevant to their degree, tips on recruitment and selection and in particular meeting professionals and employers, which gave them a 'real' insight into professional working life.
  • Free text comments within the survey also revealed an appreciation of working towards a live job/paid insight experience as an end goal of the module with all teaching and assignments (e.g. CV and cover letter writing, mock interviews, etc.) framed around this main aim.
  • Due to extraneous factors, it remains unclear whether students preferred to be taught about employability by their academic departments or by the careers service. However, students seemed to engage more positively, and be more satisfied, with modules taught by the latter.

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Different approaches to teaching employability

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Download PDF file Different approaches to teaching employability

About the report

Universities have a responsibility to provide graduates with opportunities and experiences that will increase their employability in preparation for entering the graduate labour market. This research report explores how this should be done in terms of who should teach it - academics or careers staff - and by what methods: practical and skills-based or theoretical.

This HECSU-funded research was conducted and authored by Helen Standage, senior employability education manager at the University of Essex.

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