Employability is a concern for all universities, for a number of reasons.
Firstly we need to provide our graduates with the very best opportunity to gain graduate level work or engage in in further study. As students pay increased tuition fees, then they may see that possession of a degree is the passport they need to access a better job, and will expect their university to have provided them with the best opportunities to gain employment. This of course is a disappointing and transactional view of higher education, and we still need to explain to many the transformational nature of HE, and how the benefits are greater than just a passport into a job.
Secondly however, is the university’s commitment to its environment and local economy. Universities themselves are large employers, and in some cities may be one of the main employers of graduates. Recent work has shown the extent to which graduates are retained in their region of study.
A new publication by the City Growth Commission for the RSA, entitled “Univercities, the Knowledge to Power UK Metros” looks at the relationships between universities and cities, and provides some deliberately provocative ideas under three main headings:
- optimising research and teaching for metro growth
- promoting graduate retention and utilisation
- enterprising students, graduates and faculty
Th three screen grabs below summarise the main ideas.
The challenge might be for universities who co-exist in a region to learn to collaborate with each other rater than compete, whereas for the “metros” as defined in the paper the challenge will be to be able to investment funds for HE to support developments in research and teaching that are relevant to the locality.
Embedding entrepreneurialism into courses and providing enterprise modules are areas that we have already developed within our own Staffordshire Graduate Employability programme. The next step for us might be how to broaden this to have an impact in all subject areas, and how to work more closely with employers and enterprises within our region to develop the placements needed.
Overall, this is an interesting paper, with some different ideas – if nothing else it makes clear the necessity to develop graduate employment in local economies that are not just based in London!