Greenwich wins AGCAS Award for Employability 2016

15 October 2016

The winner of the 2016 AGCAS Award for Employability, sponsored by Prospects, is the University of Greenwich's Employability and Careers Service (ECS).

Upon examining the employment prospects of its graduates, the university became acutely aware that its minority students were suffering. A newly revamped ECS sought to tackle this by establishing a new employability approach, which has significantly improved the prospects of all Greenwich students, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students.

The winning formula

The University of Greenwich ranks amongst the top 10 most diverse UK institutions for student intake. However, upon examining employment prospects for all students, managers were acutely aware that BAME students were suffering. Of the 2013-14 leavers, 37% of Asian graduates and 36% of Black graduates were unemployed or in non-graduate level work compared to only 27% of white graduates.

In August 2015, the newly revamped ECS sought to tackle this and the issue of underachievement amongst students from poorer households. When questioned about barriers to success, students cited 'a lack of confidence'. With this knowledge, ECS adopted a brand new employability approach.

The approach observed three rules that aimed to improve prospects. Rule one was to de-clutter. This meant no longer delivering a plethora of provisions, instead focusing on six core provisions, which if done well would augment graduate destinations. Rule two was to become outcome-orientated, ensuring the majority of what ECS did was impactful and provided more of a helping hand to unconfident students. Rule three was tailoring provisions to the needs of students, including through the creation of career clinics, where ECS staff established pop-up careers centres in high footfall areas.

Outcomes of the programme

Some of the programme's greatest achievements include:

  • 7% increase in graduates, including BAME, securing graduate jobs compared to the previous year.
  • 155 graduates securing a graduate job or internship fully brokered by ECS.
  • 2,000 students fully engaged by ECS delivering employability in the curriculum.
  • 541 students fully engaged by ECS's new pop-up careers clinic initiative.
  • 60 employers being engaged at one business breakfast event, who subsequently offered opportunities to students.

Kat Breadon, a BA Hons Sociology student from the University of Greenwich, commented on her experience:

"Ele (from ECS) identified my strengths and showed me how to effectively use them to attract employers. Her guidance and encouragement helped me to land a second interview with an amazing company, and I’m extremely grateful for her help."

Richard Mendez, Head of Employability at the University of Greenwich, said:

"The Employability & Careers Service at the University of Greenwich is delighted to receive this award. It is a testimony to all the hard work of the respective members of the department in making a positive difference to the career prospects of so many students, including BAME students."

Judges' comments

Awards judges found that ECS had been able to introduce new and effective strategies to improve the employability of its ethnically-diverse student population. They found that ECS had managed to streamline their offer andfocus their efforts on high-impact initiatives, which were designed to improve student confidence. Judges were also impressed by how well the services had been tailored to meet the individual needs of students.