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University of Huddersfield: The Employability Challenge, Skills for Life

Crowned AGCAS Awards for Excellence winner in the category of Research, the University of Huddersfield Careers and Employability Service undertook its research project with funding from the PMI2 British Council initiative. The work was carried out in conjunction with the University's School of Education and Professional Development and in partnership with GPNU University in Guangzhou, China.

Research project

The project explored findings from a quantitative study investigating three categories of employability skills: personal qualities; subject knowledge; and professionalism. It analysed findings that show employers in both countries aim to recruit graduates who are reliable, innovative, lifelong learners, and who are also competent in team working and problem solving. It also contrasts the particular employability skills more highly rated by Chinese employers, e.g. social responsibility, ethical values and negotiation/persuasion, with those highlighted by UK employers, e.g. enthusiasm, adaptability, communication and self-motivation, and explores the cultural significance of this.

The research examined the implications of these results for universities seeking to empower graduates to address proactively the global employability challenge through generating sustainable skills for life.

Results

The outcome illuminated those skills and competencies expected of new graduates by employers in both China and the UK, as the head of Huddersfield's Careers and Employability Service, Stephen Boyd, explains:

"Globalisation of the supply and demand for higher education has alerted universities to a need for graduates to develop employability skills that are sustainable, relevant and responsive to an increasingly competitive global labour market. The research provided a comparative international perspective on employability skills, and included the creation of an interactive web-based package that has been designed to help graduates develop employability skills."

Success

The findings from this two-year project have now been disseminated to a number of universities in both the UK and China and was praised by the external assessor for the British Council as one of the most 'significant approaches to career development learning promulgated over the past twenty years or so... a significant enhancement'.




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