“Mission Employable” – students driving change in developing student employability at the University of Southampton

I read with fascination a case study recently published in the Change Agents’ Network Journal of educational innovation, partnership and change entitled ‘Mission Employable’: Creating a student-led employability strategy for the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton. The case study exemplifies an effective faculty-based approach to students driving change in pursuit of enhancing student employability (and exploiting technologies) and is particularly interesting in view of the fact that developing employability in humanities students is possibly not as clear-cut as, for example, with STEM students. The approach included the formation of a faculty working group and the “Mission Employable” brand. External employer engagement was achieved via an external advisory board and the Humanities Alumni Network. Four student interns were recruited, two of whom collaborated with faculty and careers staff to create content for a compulsory undergraduate first year employability module and launching the alumni network and external advisory board. The third intern helped to develop a faculty-wide peer mentoring scheme to support new students and to develop student mentoring skills. The fourth intern focused on research and evaluation together with the development of a reflective tool for use by students (reflecting on their employability related activities). The four interns also contributed towards a university wide initiative to showcase curricula, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and demonstrate student employability skills (see www.soton.ac.uk/opus).

It is particularly interesting that the Alumni network chose LinkedIn to support engagement between students, staff and alumni – I’ve often felt that this network is rather under-exploited by institutions in pursuit of employer engagement and developing student employability.

A key lesson learnt is the importance of encouraging students to think about career-planning much earlier whilst simultaneously gaining valuable experience, by enabling them to lead, shape and run events for themselves and their peers. Another key lesson learnt by the team is the importance of students reflecting on their experiences, and recording/articulating how they have developed. These activities are supported by an online quiz and students producing a case study to showcase their employability skills.

If you would like to find out more about this initiative, you can read the case study Mission Employable’: Creating a student-led employability strategy for the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton” in our Journal of educational innovation, partnership and change

Furthermore, Dr. Eleanor Quince and Charlotte Medland from the University of Southampton will be running a Change Agents’ Network webinar on “Mission Employable” on the 30 June (12.30-13.30). You can register for the webinar at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/change-agents-network-30-jun-2015.

 

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