EmployABILITY Thinking — Building Future Careers
The Developing EmployABILITY initiative is a collaboration involving over 30 higher education institutions and over 700 scholars internationally. The goal is to enable and embed EmployABILITY thinking in the curriculum.
In partnership with university careers services, students align their learning activities with their professional development and begin to create a body of evidence for use as they build their future careers. This is facilitated through an EmployABILITY self-assessment tool, a personalised profile and a suite of online resources.
Established in 2017, the initiative is led by Professor Dawn Bennett (Curtin University) who is collaborating with the NCSEHE throughout 2019.
What is EmployABILITY?
EmployABILITY is “the ability to find, create and sustain meaningful work across the career lifespan”.
Today’s graduates are as employable as ever; however, careers are becoming increasingly complex:
- shifting large corporations and more Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
- virtual workplaces
- distributed organisations
- self-directed, highly cognitive work
- flexible patterns of work
- multiple concurrent employers/clients
- home-based, isolated work.
It is important that students and educators understand EmployABILITY is not:
- limited to skills
- the same as employment
- a process that stops at graduation
- a job
- developed exclusively in the workplace (Work Integrated Learning).
EmployABILITY thinking engages students in their cognitive and social development as capable and informed individuals, professionals and social citizens. It prompts them to understand why they think the way they think; how to critique and learn the unfamiliar; and how their values, beliefs and assumptions can inform, and be informed, by their learning, lives and careers.
EmployABILITY thinking uses a six-step process and the Literacies for Life (L4L) model to engage students in the development of their future lives and work. The measure that underpins the self-assessment tool incorporates the following broad aspects of employability:
- self-management and decision making relative to self and career
- personal and academic self-efficacy
- self esteem
- professional identity construction related to academic work and future work
- conceptualisations of self and employability
- emotional intelligence
- self-assessment of learner and graduate skills and attributes.
Students view the model as six, inter-related jigsaw pieces and they learn that EmployABILITY thinking is a continual process that persists throughout the career lifespan.
EmployABILITY Student Starter Kit
With the Developing EmployABILITY Student Starter Kit, students develop a personalised profile to identify unique strengths and key areas for improvement and access free resources that help them shape their future.
- Online EmployABILITY self-assessment tool — Students can use the self-assessment tool to create an in-depth personalised profile.
- Personalised EmployABILITY profile — This profile is used to access resources (activities; career stories; resources; and industry snapshots), to enhance student employability and facilitate more control over their personal development.
- Developing EmployABILITY — With an emphasis on planning a life, rather than just a career, resources are free for students to access and build upon.
The six-step EmployABILITY process for educators
- Register with the EmployABILITY Development initiative Registration is very quick and can be done here.
- Incorporate the tool as either an assessment item, required reading or class activity. If it is a required task, ask students to upload the front page of their profile reports as proof of completion. Find out more about the tool and the Student Starter Kit here.
- Identify employability touchpoints within your module/unit. These are places where employability thinking can be made explicit. Here are some examples:
- Upload the online self-assessment tool, which takes 15–20 minutes. Students receive their profile report straight away. Most employABILITY resources are included as embedded links, which students can access at any time. The tool is part of the Student Starter Kit.
- Pass on the process to a lecturer who will teach at least some of the students in the following semester. Encourage the lecturer to adopt the employABILITY process with their class, and ensure that the process is now embedded within your unit or module.
- Encourage students to reflect upon, review and recreate their profiles each semester. They can look back over previous profile reports at any time to see how their thinking has changed.
Very little is known about how students develop the skills and knowledge required to negotiate their future lives and careers. This makes it hard to advocate for change or to support good practice.
Data collected from EmployABILITY profiles will enhance our understanding of how we prepare students for graduate life and work, and to enable these strategies to be embedded into the curriculum.
When completing the personalised profile, students choose whether or not to include their anonymised responses in the research database. The database is hosted securely and all institutional, program and personal details are removed prior to analysis.
Data from the tool is creating a unique picture of student thinking and confidence. Analysis will begin to identify equity cohorts in June, with early findings from the first-year students established by October 2019. Collaborators are encouraged to join the international cohort of researchers.
Developing EmployABILITY is led by Professor Dawn Bennett and is supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.
Professor Dawn Bennett is John Curtin Distinguished Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Developing EmployABILITY and Creative Workforce Initiatives at Curtin University.
Dawn is collaborating with the NCSEHE throughout 2019 and will represent the NCSEHE at the 2019 EPHEA/NAEEA Conference for a Special Interest Group — Equity and Employability in Higher Education.