Employers have identified a skills gap in graduates entering the workplace1. So an important element of any course should be supporting students to develop their employability skills.
Technology supports students and staff to better engage with employers, and can help students develop and showcase their employability skills, as highlighted in our technology for employability report and toolkit. Our higher education (HE) case studies and further education (FE) and skills case studies also provide some exemplars.
What you can do
Our research into developing students' employability has identified five key ways you can use technology to support student employability, which will provide significant benefits to students, employers and learning providers.
1. Develop authentic learning experiences
Using technology to provide real-world learning experiences can help students develop their employability skills.
Technologies such as wikis, simulations, games, collaboration and social media tools can all be used to develop authentic learning experiences.
One example of this is augmented reality being used by automotive apprentices at S&B Autos Automotive Academy to support virtual paint spraying, allowing students to gain basic skills and practice in a safe ‘virtual’ environment.
2. Help students engage with employers
Technologies such as social media, mobile devices and e-portfolios can help students build relationships with employers, develop their digital identities and showcase their skills.
The 'Mission Employable' initiative developed by the University of Southampton demonstrates how social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been used for professional purposes. The initiative has facilitated engagement between students and employers.
3. Develop students' lifelong learning and employability skills
Lifelong learning skills are key employability capabilities in their own right. Developing the ability to become independent, self-regulating learners are skills that will be essential for success in any chosen path.
Technologies such as e-portfolios or blogs can enable learners to gain feedback from multiple audiences, reflect on their ongoing development, and make sense of their learning. For example, the University of Edinburgh have developed learner-led accredited assessments that put the learner in control.
Our guide to successful staff-student partnerships explores how co-working with students on the development of a digital curriculum has many benefits, including improved employability and job prospects.
4. Use technology for employability and skills development
Learner skills diagnostic tools can be used to help students identify their employability skills. Careers services can help to develop the employability skills of students.
5. Develop students' digital literacy
Digital literacies can help students understand how technology can be used appropriately in the workplace. Considering digital literacies in relation to employability skills can help students to identify the right skills for the job. But we need to go further, helping students to develop their digital entrepreneurial skills to enable innovation.
South West College Northern Ireland is making this happen through partnering students with employers with real-life problems.
Digital credentials such as open badges have the potential to showcase student employability skills such as leadership, communication and mentoring skills. We are at the early stages of investigating their potential as part of our prospect to alumnus project.
- 1 'Businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace – nearly nine in ten employers (89%) value these above factors such as degree subject (62%)' - CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2015 (CBI / Pearson, 2015)