Palgrave Teaching and Learning

by Sally Brown (Series Editor)

Employability: undergraduates

Sarah Nixon, Liverpool John Moores University

Universities are focused on the employability of their graduates. There has been a long-standing connection between higher education and the economy which relates to what graduates can do and add value to in the workplace once they leave the institution. Yorke (2006) proposes the following employability definition: In the UK, first destination statistics are gathered to discover the proportion of gradates in work six months after leaving university, and other countries do similar surveys. Universities across the world are focusing on issues related to employability and designing their curriculum around key themes. The messages from different institutions point in a variety of directions but contain the element of supporting students to work in a global marketplace with a skill-set that is suited to today’s environment and personal attributes and attitudes to enable them to succeed. Helping students to develop in such a way can be reinforced by good curriculum design and a programme-based focus on using real-life scenarios, case study teaching, authentic assessments and work-based and work-related learning. Industry speakers are a good way of enabling students to listen and learn from those in the position they might want to be in one day.

You might want to consider:
  • Auditing your programmes with an employability lens and then mapping out the findings to show the students how studying on the degree will help them in the future.
  • How the programme supports students to develop their skills and attitudes over their time with you, and how this development can be enhanced and built upon.
  • In what ways you can bring the external environment into the curriculum and the students out into the environment.

Useful reading

Yorke, M. (2006) Employability in Higher Education: what it is – what it is not. York: HEA. Accessed at

BIS (2011) Supporting graduate employability: HEI practice in other countries. Research Paper number 40. London. Accessed at