Employability toolkit

A framework that can be adopted by teams to aid dialogue, decision-making and planning for developing student employability.


Employability has never been more important for learning providers, and digital skills are vital to support employability in the twenty first century economy. Even the most unlikely jobs may require digital skills, as these recycling lorry loaders can assure us.

There are several key ways you can use technology to support student employability, which will provide significant benefits to students, employers and learning providers.

Develop authentic learning experiences

Using technology to provide real-world learning experiences can help students develop their employability skills. See our getting started with immersive technology guide for ideas about how to get started.

Technologies such as virtual or augmented reality simulations, games, collaboration and social media tools can all be used to develop authentic learning experiences.

Help engagement with employers

Social media, professional networks and online portfolios can help students build relationships with employers, develop their digital identities and showcase their skills. 

Support lifelong learning and employability skills

Lifelong learning is key to employability capability. Developing the ability to become independent, self-regulating learners are skills that will be essential for success in any chosen path.

Online portfolios, social media posts or blogs can enable learners to gain feedback from multiple audiences, reflect on their ongoing development, and make sense of their learning.

Our guide to enhancing student learning, progression and employability with e-portfolios illustrates the many benefits e-portfolios can bring to lifelong learning and employability.

Develop digital capability

Digital capability can help students understand how technology can be used appropriately in the workplace. Consider how blended and hybrid learning might help here – digital tools and techniques can be embedded into teaching, learning and assessment to build up skills and experience.

Jisc’s digital pedagogy toolkit offers advice and guidance for practitioners who are improving their digital delivery, and this blog post about active learning in the digital world suggests new tools for established teaching methods.

Considering digital capability 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.

About the toolkit

Developing digital employability skills is a vital component of course delivery for learners, employers and providers. In addition, we know that learners with disabilities or additional needs can struggle with various elements of employability. The following sections will help you identify learner attributes, build employability into curriculum design, embed technology for employability into delivery and plan for wider support for employability across your organisation.

The toolkit consists of the following four elements:

Who can use the toolkit?

Staff in different roles may find various parts of the toolkit useful. The toolkit is for: senior leaders, programme teams, curriculum leads, quality managers, staff developers, learning technologists, learning support teams, support services, careers officers, coaches and mentors.

Supporting you

This toolkit provides a framework and useful guidance that can be adopted by teams to aid dialogue, decision-making and planning for developing student employability.


Developing learners employability skills is a popular online training workshop that explores the toolkit and looks at ways to support learners to develop their digital skills.


Jisc's consultancy offering helps you develop an inclusive strategic approach to using technology in your planning and delivery to support the development of employability skills and enhance the learner experience across your organisation.

Contact your relationship manager for further information.

Describing an employable learner

Use this to help redesign the curriculum to incorporate employability.

This model uses seven dimensions to describe an employable learner. For each dimension you will find sub-attributes and suggestions for digital skills and capabilities that support them.

  • Basic work readiness
  • Professional skills and knowledge
  • Lifelong employability
  • Lifelong learning
  • Authentic learning experiences
  • Key attributes
  • High level capabilities

Basic work readiness

  • Ethical and moral behaviour
  • Appearance and presentation
  • Social skills
  • Numeracy
  • Spoken and written communication

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Managing their online identity and reputation for a positive online persona
  • Using digital resources to identify and consider aspects of their behaviour, appearance and social skills
  • Taking part in digital activities to support the development of their functional skills online and in person
  • Being aware of digital language and etiquette to ensure that their online interactions are appropriate.

Professional skills and knowledge

  • Collaboration, leadership
  • Communication, influencing, negotiation
  • Enterprise, commercial and business awareness
  • Planning, organisation and project management
  • Investigation, analysis and problem solving
  • Languages
  • Self-management

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Keeping up to date with collaboration, communication and management tools and platforms
  • Following effective practices and procedures when they are working with others
  • Influencing and encouraging others to use digital solutions
  • Managing risk and ensuring their compliance when they are using tools and platforms
  • Taking part in online language courses or communities
  • Being aware of management tools that can support team working, problem solving, research and analysis
  • Using tools that promote personal wellbeing, time and workload management, and CPD

Lifelong employability

  • Self-awareness to evaluate skills, capabilities and attributes
  • Developing intelligence about careers, markets, jobs, employers
  • Identifying career options and skills required
  • Developing a strategic plan
  • Networking and engagement
  • Having collateral eg CV, digital resources, evidence of skills
  • Effective communication and presentation of these

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Choosing online platforms for CPD, portfolios of work, showcasing skills and experience, and reflection
  • Using social media to support research around careers, markets and job opportunities
  • Managing their online identity and reputation
  • Creating a ‘live online CV’ of experiences, contributions, collaborations and engagements
  • Participating in professional networks
  • Communicating effectively with an understanding of professional online etiquette

Lifelong learning

  • Self-directed planning, assessment and review of learning
  • Self-directed updating of skills
  • Learning in all contexts, formal and non-formal
  • Seeking feedback from peers, tutors and employers
  • Recording and reflecting on learning

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Accessing online learning opportunities and resources, both formal and informal
  • Using online platforms to support and showcase CPD
  • Taking part in professional learning networks and collaborating with colleagues
  • Using social media and other platforms to record and reflect on learning and inviting comment

Authentic learning experiences

  • Experience of working with employers, community or voluntary groups
  • Application of learning, skills, knowledge and experience to work
  • Reflecting on authentic experience
  • Communicating and evidencing learning from authentic experience

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Researching opportunities online to gain work experience
  • Using digital tools and platforms to support communications and engagement with employers
  • Using video, podcasting, blogging to reflect on their experience
  • Sharing and collaborating with peers and colleagues using social media and other platforms

Key attributes

  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Confidence, humility and assertiveness
  • Creativity and vision
  • Aspirations, motivation and persistency
  • Responsibility and initiative
  • Sensitivity to contexts; cultural, business, global, political

Learners can develop and enhance their key attributes by:

  • Developing relationships online and offline
  • Using digital platforms and tools to work effectively and efficiently as a team
  • Having confidence to try new things and be creative
  • Accessing information and people in a range of digital and live spaces
  • Constructing their appearance and persona in social media profiles
  • Demonstrating positive characteristics in various contexts; global, local, political, social, professional

High level capabilities

  • Creative problem identification and solving
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Enquiry, research and critical analysis
  • Coaching and mentoring

Learners can develop their digital skills and capabilities by:

  • Using digital tools for complex problem solving and creativity
  • Applying advanced methods of research, information sharing, communication and collaboration
  • Engaging with stakeholders around data analysis and presentation
  • Influencing others using digital tools, media and practices
  • Coaching and mentoring colleagues and staff in digital practice
  • Troubleshooting digital issues, problems and challenges

Incorporating employability into curriculum design

Use this to help redesign the curriculum to incorporate employability.

This section explores:

  • Curriculum design for a digital world
  • Assessment for learning
  • Employer engagement

Curriculum design for a digital world

Employability can be embedded into the curriculum by:

  • Building in opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning early on
  • Preparing students for lifelong learning by having them identify, develop and reflect on their employability skills. How do these skills need to adapt in light of changes in technology?
  • Aligning employability skills to learning outcomes and assessment practices
  • Allowing students to reflect on their own employability skills and identify opportunities to improve
  • Providing opportunities for students to engage with employers and/or sector experts to inform their development needs
  • Using dedicated online spaces where students and tutors can record evidence of employability, which can be used during supportive conversations eg tutorials

Learners are supported personally, academically and professionally by:

  • Providing access to qualified and trained personal tutors
  • Ensuring that induction processes equip them with the appropriate digital tools and platforms to practice, develop and reflect on their employability
  • Carrying out appropriate diagnostics to identify areas of support/development
  • Providing access to a range of careers support resources to help them prepare and apply for jobs in their field eg CV writing, interview techniques, etc
  • Supporting them in the use of digital technologies

The curriculum promotes access and inclusion by:

  • Ensuring students with poor digital access or skills are considered, offered support and provided with alternatives
  • Including a range of digital learning and assessment activities to give learners choice that suit their needs eg captioned videos and podcasts can benefit many learners who don’t have disabilities

Assessment for learning

Formative assessment and regular feedback is incorporated by:

  • Giving students an opportunity to discuss their employability needs with tutors and reflect on feedback
  • Requiring students to act on feedback throughout a programme and monitor changes for improvement
  • Providing students with regular feedback opportunities to reflect on their employability development
  • Using feedforward and feedback techniques for students to identify potential employability challenges
  • Encouraging peer feedback during appropriate activities mapped to employability development
  • Designing authentic assessments that mirror practices in the workplace

Employer engagement

Employers inform curriculum development by:

  • Involving employers in curriculum design and assessment approaches that focus on employability
  • Using technology to simulate real working practices eg virtual reality

Employers are engaged with delivery by:

  • Using employers where appropriate as student mentors to provide feedback on employability skills
  • Setting up alumni networks that provide opportunities for conversation between students and former students now working in the sector
  • Working with sector bodies to set challenges for students based on authentic learning experiences

Students are provided with authentic learning experiences by:

  • Providing opportunities for work placements eg work based learning, apprenticeships
  • Contextualising learning activities in authentic environments, especially in FE eg salons, kitchens, garages, etc

Embedding technology for employability into delivery

Use this to help shape how technology can be used to incorporate employability into programmes with clearly defined benefits for students, employers and learning providers.

This part of the toolkit covers:

  • Authentic and simulated learning experiences
  • Communication and engagement with employers
  • Lifelong learning and employability
  • Development of employability skills
  • Development of digital skills for work

Authentic and simulated learning experiences

Authentic learning experiences can be highly effective in motivating and engaging students. They can experience different working environments, access remote places, and gain insights into a range of working locations and practices. Employers can add these opportunities to their recruitment packages and get to know potential candidates while offering support through the process. Simulations can be an efficient method of developing learners, bringing cost savings in materials and health and safety measures, and allowing for a greater number of participants.

Learners can gain digital skills and experience by:

  • Collaborating and problem solving with employers
  • Taking part in simulated scenarios and game-based activities
  • Using specialist functions and specific work hardware and software
  • Professional networking and having conversations
  • Developing their social media professional profile

Communication and engagement with employers

Engagement with employers can be a good way for students to identify and research a career path or job role. They can understand what employers are looking for and this can help them shape the presentation of their skills, knowledge and experience in a digital context. This could be described as a ‘live online CV’.

Employers can get to know candidates in more depth, beyond qualifications and a static CV. This can help them match the applicant and the role with more accuracy and longer term success. Learning providers can benefit from greater engagement with employers by partnering with their students and getting involved in professional networking and conversations.

Learners can gain digital skills and experience by:

  • Researching and developing relationships with employers
  • Developing and maintaining a positive digital identity
  • Sharing and showcasing skills, professional development and achievements
  • Building a portfolio of competencies, evidence or artefacts

Lifelong learning and employability

Students can benefit from a lifelong approach to learning and employability. For example, they can use a portfolio to manage evidence of learning, experiences and skills which can be used at all stages of their working life. This evidence can be used to evaluate performance, make judgments and take decisions about future activities and directions.

Employers can expect applicants who have a far-sighted attitude to work, a commitment to developing and improving, and a range of flexible skills in a changing employability landscape. Learning providers will benefit from the development of students who are motivated and independent.

Learners can gain digital skills and experience by:

  • Self-directed learning and professional development
  • Developing personal learning and professional networks
  • Working towards online badges in addition to more formal qualifications
  • Taking part in formal and informal learning online
  • Reflecting on and sharing learning and work experiences
  • Seeking and reflecting on feedback from a range of stakeholders

Development of employability skills

It can be helpful for students to find flexible approaches to developing and reviewing their own employability skills.

Learning providers can provide access to a range of self-help services that might include career advice and guidance, planning tools, news and job search training eg digital applications forms, CV presentation, or online interview techniques.

Learners can gain digital skills and experience by:

  • Using self-directed online career development tools and platforms
  • Identifying, evaluating and planning for employability skills development
  • Making best use of online learning and assessment opportunities eg badges
  • Accessing careers and transition services provided internally or nationally

Development of digital skills for work

Employers will benefit from recruiting people who have a good understanding of how to apply digital skills and experience in the work context. They can expect a creative and innovative approach to business objectives and the ability to inspire and influence supporting IT strategy and processes.

Learners can gain digital skills and experience by:

  • Communicating and engaging with employers
  • Collaborating with employers on problem solving and projects
  • Developing digital entrepreneurialism

Widening support for employability

Help to develop organisational support for employability through enhancements to policies, plans and staff development.

Use this to help with:

  • Embedding employability in policies, plans and processes
  • Staff professional development
  • Infrastructure, tools and resources
  • Communication and collaboration for change
  • Quality assurance and continual improvement
  • Recognition of achievements

Embedding employability in policies, plans and processes

Employability can be embedded by:

  • Developing policies and strategies that require programme teams to support personal, academic and professional development using learner centred technologies that support employability skills
  • Ensuring that strategies and policies relating to infrastructure and systems support the development of digital skills inclusively
  • Working collaboratively between programme teams and professional support staff to develop a coherent approach to employability across the organisation
  • Emphasising effective employer engagement in policies and strategies
  • Monitoring and evaluating policies and strategies to make sure they are up to date

Staff professional development

Professional development can be supported by:

  • Ensuring that CPD programmes incorporate a range of topics around the development of learner employability skills
  • Supporting staff by forming communities of practice for sharing information, resources and experiences
  • Encouraging staff to take responsibility for developing their own digital employability skills

Infrastructure, tools and resources

The organisation can support employability skills development by:

  • Regularly reviewing and evaluating infrastructure, tools and resources against identified needs and sector benchmarks
  • Providing an easy route to access to support services which might include IT, careers, learning technology, inclusion and student services
  • Making sure that tools and platforms are accessible and inclusive to all

Communication and collaboration for change

Communication and collaboration can be improved by:

  • Organising a range of engagement activities that bring together different parts of the organisation eg webinars, seminars, events and training workshops
  • Involving current students in change processes, employability initiatives and employer engagement
  • Bringing in past students and alumni to offer mentoring, give presentations and share their experiences

Quality assurance and continual improvement

Quality can be improved by:

  • Fully defining and communicating quality assurance processes
  • Setting up data monitoring, analysis and evaluation processes
  • Analysing trends and learner performance data to inform support and interventions
  • Demonstrating staff and learner employability development using common inspection frameworks and the relevant national digital strategy for education

Recognition of achievements

Employability achievements can be formally recognised by:

  • Encouraging staff and learners to record their progress using in-house or national platforms for CPD – this should be part of the organisational culture
  • Incorporating employability into students’ personal, professional and academic development, teaching and learning, assessment and support
  • Awarding eg online badges or other marks of recognition of specific skills and experience
This guide is made available under Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND).