The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Embedding Employability in the Curriculum – Strategies to Improve Outcomes for University Graduates

Sarah Richardson, Australian Council for Educational Research (Australia)


It is imperative that university graduates are prepared for work and employment. They need to gain appropriate skills and knowledge for the sector in which they intend to work, both disciplinary and generic. Many employers (and clients) place significant emphasis on the latter, whereas the focus of universities is arguably the inverse. As a consequence there are significant gaps between what employers expect graduates to know and to be able to do, and their actual graduate attributes. These issues are magnified in disciplines in which graduate destinations are highly diverse, with a lack of obvious career paths, intense competition for work and complex models of work.

            This paper draws on research with students, graduates, education leaders and careers professionals in Australia, Brazil and Mexico. It reports students’ perceptions of the skills they need to gain prior to graduation and contrasts these with insights from graduates. It reports on the development of a framework for employability skills development, including best practice in employability skills education. It then highlights strategies which can be used in the university classroom to help students enhance their employability. Drawing on practical initiatives which have proven to be successful, it illustrates approaches which students, educators and education leaders can put into action. The paper will conclude by providing participants with links to an online toolbox which can be utilised in a wide range of contexts.


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