Is Employability A Local Issue?

Much of the focus of my recent teaching, research and presentations have been based around student employability.

To me, it’s very important that students are given every opportunity to achieve a career in the academic discipline that they’ve been studying. As a Computing academic, much of my approach is to look at the skills needed for a Computing career, encompassing both technical and inter-personal aspects, as well as helping students to document and present what they’ve done in a manner that is easily accessible for employers.

However, several incidents recently have led me to believe the employability focused approach is one that is most common in the UK, and does not easily extend internationally.

At a general conference I attended on Computing Education, the focus was almost entirely on standard technical skills, with very little interest shown in employability, or thinking about what is needed for students after they complete a course.

I attended a workshop, and one of the discussions was about employability not being a core concept. The closest equivalent was looking at life skills (of which setting students up for a career could be argued to be a part), but there seemed little consensus that universities should be working around that role.

I also wrote a draft of a paper recently, which was generally well-received, but one of the most striking reviewer comments related to something I wrote about employability, that this was the end aim of university study. The reviewer made it clear that this different greatly from their interpretation, and presented the view that any piece written to involve employment should be repositioned from a sociological aspect.

Despite these different views, I still believe strongly in making sure that students are prepared for employment. Much of my continued research relates to the ways in which the selection processes that get students into jobs are changing. Employability certainly isn’t a static area, and it is one which needs continual updates to match the changes in the wider world.

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Article by Thomas Lancaster

I am an experienced Computer Science academic, best known for research work into academic integrity, plagiarism and contract cheating. I have held leadership positions in several universities, with specialty in student recruitment and keen interest in working in partnership with students. Please browse around the blog and the links, and feel free to leave your thoughts.
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