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Implementing a Skills and Employability Agenda at Departmental Level Brian Whalley Queens University of Belfast GEES Annual Meeting,

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Presentation on theme: "Implementing a Skills and Employability Agenda at Departmental Level Brian Whalley Queens University of Belfast GEES Annual Meeting,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Implementing a Skills and Employability Agenda at Departmental Level Brian Whalley Queens University of Belfast GEES Annual Meeting, Edinburgh, 2-3 July 2008 NB References can be found in the Notes section. Pdfs and.xls files of material used can be found at my website: under skills

2 Institutional Policy Do you have one? –Now, next year? coming real soon? –Skills only? –Employability only? Departmental Policy? Here is our shiny new Institutional policy - So go away and implement it! Quick show of hands: –Do you have one now? Soon? Having to implement it? Wondering how the … to do it?

3 Yippee! A quick analysis, please indicate: If you are in favour of employability in your Curriculum If you know your students are in favour of employability in their programmes (How do you know?) If you know the majority of staff are behind you? (Is this why you are here?)

4 Another question (this workshop is all about reflection!) Have you a departmental statement about what you want to produce? –(and yes, you are on a production line) –One you could use in promotion e.g. What sort of graduate are we expecting from GEES in the 21st Century?* Graduateness etc, what does this mean (Do all staff contribute to this concept?)

5 What do we mean by employability A quick brainstorm…… A set of achievements, understandings and personal attributes that make individuals more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations (ESECT, 2004) Do all your staff agree on this?

6 What I want to do is Look at some detail rather than the strategy Not look at specific employability modules (although I have borrowed bit from Brian Chalkleys workshop material) Explore what you (and your colleagues, and your students) think about these issues. (Rather than give you fully fledged answers)

7 What do we means by skills? Well, we all know dont we! Ability to think, write, draw, take digital pictures and use MS Office……. Do you have a departmental consensus on skills? A quick show of hands?

8 Skills Graduates should leave higher education better in many ways than when they entered it, and this improvement should be attributable to the undergraduate curriculum, rather than to the fact they are simply three or four years older. …….. They need to be equipped with skills that they can use to sell themselves to employers. (Washer, 2007, p. 60) Do you agree? How do we bring GEES in this?

9 Directions Institution Top-down is only a guide Departmental top-down is tricky to implement Taking colleagues on board may be tricky High level discussion Leitch promoted - we have to do something Warhurst et al. Whats happening to skill? Oblinger and Verville - What business wants from Higher Education

10 Typologies, e.g. Subject-Specific (Intellectual) skills Key skills Employability Skills

11 Cognitive/intellectual skills, which include being able to: identify, analyse and solve problems by prioritising tasks, coping with complexity, setting achievable goals and taking action work with information and handle a mass of diverse data, assess risk and draw conclusions (analysis, attention to detail, judgement) apply subject knowledge and understanding from the degree pathway QUB Employability and Skills Policy, 2008

12 Generic skills (Geography Benchmark 07) As a result of taking their degree, geography students should develop skills in the following areas: learning and study, written communication verbal presentation, contextualising information numeracy and computation spatial awareness and observation field and laboratory studies (both scientific and computational) ICT information handling and retrieval (including the use of online computer searches and the internet); identifying, retrieving, sorting and exchanging information; investigating a wide range of sources; and understanding intellectual property and copyright interpersonal situations, including working with groups/teams and recognising and respecting the viewpoints of others.

13 Embedding Taught - where? Practiced - how? Assessed - by what means? Are skills (and employability) stated in your module LOs?)

14 !!!!!!!! ??????? How on earth do we deliver all that? Is anybody prepared to? Oh and there is entrepreneurship too! So, when you thought youd got it sorted….

15 A bit like the Daleks arriving….

16 Skills should: Cover subject-specific and key skills Include formal teaching of skills Provide opportunities for practice and transfer Allow students to reflect on their performance Be assessed Exist in a curriculum that is progressive (Derived from Brian Chalkleys workshop at QUB)

17 What skills do you prioritise? Intellectual (eg problem-solving*) Professional attributes (eg team- working, adaptability, creativity etc.) IT skills Business and organisation skills (eg how businesses operate, entrepreneurship and innovation) (Derived from Brian Chalkleys workshop at QUB)

18 In the press A hard line on softer skills (Tasha Kosviner, Guardian Feb 20th 08) many students enter the business world unprepared. So who is responsible for teaching them employability

19 And further ….students must look at how they go about developing these capabilities. They must think about what skills they're acquiring from their course, look at complementing that with extra-curricular experience and then think about how they can articulate the skills they've gained to potential employers."

20 Employability and attributes model (Napier University; adapted from Laybourn et al. 2000) Reflective skills Learning to learn Analysis of products and processes of learning Identification of appropriate strategies, activities for effectiveness Identification of personal strengths and development needs Reflective skills Key skills Improving personal performance Working with others Time management Study skills Problem solving Communication Numeracy ICT Personal qualities Self-motivation Self-reliance Adaptability Flexibility Creativity nous Understanding how organisations work Knowledge of working practices Professional behaviour Recognition of organisational culture Traditional intellectual skills Critical evaluation of evidence Argue logically Apply theory to practice Model problems Challenge assumptions

21 Skills and Employability (Knight and Yorke,2003) Personal Qualities Core skills Process skills Skills Plus project (see GEES stand)

22 PBL - a way forward? A progressive programme Importance of Problem-based learning techniques - in general Application generally (to L2) More academic at L3? The dissertation as a problem solving task with project planning (I would argue that we are problem-solving animals - and so pretty much all that we do should be in this vein.)

23 So… Can we make something manageable out of all this? With a bit of help from Bob the Builder and the Doctor Yes, we can Enter Peter Washer! Washer, P. (2007). Revisiting Key Skills: A Practical Framework for Higher Education. Quality in Higher Education 13:

24 Level-graded progression Entry - yellow L1 - green L2 - pink L3/graduation - blue Basic + additions for GEES Have a look at them Then, in a group of 2-3 see what you might do for a module that you know.

25 Assessment (it always comes down to assessment!) Given Brian Chalkleys precepts How do you develop skills and specifically employability in your module(s)? A guide to the way to go……?

26 Dror and Mentkowski (and a bit of Csiksentmihalyi) Control - handing to students Challenge - student abilities Commitment - to learning opportunities etc To help produce Student Competence (encouragement by challenge and remarks) Confidence (encouragement by control and remarks) Critical thinking Creativity Collaboration and Commonality of Purpose

27 Things to help GEES website and wiki HEA website Sheffield Hallam CETL Oxford Brookes - Enhancing employability (includes programme audit document) Enhancing Graduate Employability: embedding employability in the curriculum - (Good practice guide; due early 08) White Rose consortium

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