Delivering our Employability Plan – Our mission is simple: We Transform Lives.

This simple statement distils our ambition as a modern university to transform the lives of our students through an applied educational experience. Our students will be confident, creative, resilient and responsible.- prepared for whatever they decide to do.

The new Employability Plan, approved by Shaping Futures, provides an overarching framework to build on our employability offer. The Employability Plan is not intended to replace the excellent practice that already exists; instead, through the Employability Plan, we are committed to a clear and consistent Employability Promise for all of our students to improve Graduate Outcomes.

The Employability Plan has been developed in partnership with both Academic and Professional Service colleagues; the success of the Employability Plan is dependent upon continued collaboration across the university to deliver the three overlapping areas of the plan.

Better Prepared Students Every student will be prepared for highly skilled employment or further study upon graduation.

Innovative and Applied Curriculum Every course will have a distinctive employability pathway and link to the 3+3 Graduate Attribute framework.

More and Better Jobs Every student will also have access to graduate opportunities, bespoke internships, work placement and work experience opportunities throughout their course.

The Employability Partnership Agreements (EPAs) have been developed at Department and Faculty level to support the implementation of the Employability Plan and prioritise specific course and student support. You can see the 2017/18 EPAs under the ‘Targeted Support and Employability Partnership Agreements’ section.

The next section details the Employability Plan, outlining the case for change and our ambition to improve Graduate Outcomes across all of the TEF measures. The specific sections then provide a short overview of the Employability Promise, links to resources and the services on offer to our students. The resource is intended to be a dynamic so be sure to check back regularly to access resources, events and case studies on Employability in Practice.

At SHU we have a long tradition of employability excellence, however, in an increasingly complex and competitive world, we must continue to develop the best graduates by preparing for whatever they decide to do. I look forward to working in partnership to deliver our Employability Promise.

Conor Moss – Group Director for Business Engagement, Skills and Employability (BESE)



The Case for Change

The University Strategy outlines a vision ‘to be the world’s leading applied university, achieving outstanding outcomes for our students and our city, and showing the world what a university genuinely focused on transforming lives can achieve’. To achieve step change by 2020 we have identified ten immediate priorities including ‘clear, targeted, comprehensive actions to deliver consistently excellent performance across the whole student lifecycle’.

Employability is a key feature with a commitment to the transformation of our employability offer and the implementation of our employability promise to achieve sector leading highly skilled employment and postgraduate study outcomes for our students.

The work undertaken in 2016 by Gradcore on our employability offer coupled with KPMG’s report on our approach to student placements highlighted pockets of excellence, however, it also highlighted significant inconsistencies and staid practices in what and how we deliver our employability offer.

The Gradcore Employability Healthcheck identified three key areas of concern which negatively impact upon student employability and graduate highly skilled employment outcomes:

  1. Consistency – There is a general lack of consistency in terms of understanding, delivery, experience and evaluation when it comes to employability.
  2. Clarity – There is insufficient clarity of strategy and delivery, manifested through confusion in roles and a lack of understanding of who is responsible for employability at SHU.
  3. Culture – As much as any structural changes that might result from the strategy, the critical factor is to shift in culture. The long term success of any employability strategy will rely on cultural buy-in to a collective idea of employability supported by an appropriate, consistent and future proof delivery structure centred on curriculum

Strategic Alignment

The SHU Employability Promise is aligned with the strategic ambition of the Shaping Futures Board:

‘Every student will be prepared for high skilled employment or further study upon graduation’

The investment in our employability plan will be aligned with our broader strategic ambitions. Specifically, it supports and enables the delivery of the Shaping Futures vision that “our graduates will be confident, creative, resilient and responsible – prepared for whatever they decide to do”.

In order to achieve this ambition, the Strategy Implementation Plan to 2020 outlines the top priority to provide “clear, targeted, comprehensive actions to deliver consistently excellent performance across the student lifecycle, including teaching quality, retention and employability.


As outlined in the Strategy Implementation Plan we will transform our employability offer and implement our employability promise to achieve sector leading highly skilled employment and postgraduate study outcomes for our students. Specifically, we aim to achieve the following by 2019/20:

  • Increase the percentage of our graduates gaining highly skilled employment or further study to 75% (Target for 17/18: 73%)

We also need to ensure our activity focuses on the following groups:

  • BME (particularly Black and Asian) – Target 67.3% prof/man to move above benchmark (64.3%)
  • Disabled students – Target 70.6% prof/man to move above benchmark (67.6%)
  • Disadvantaged groups – Target 67.8% prof/man to move above benchmark (64.8%)
  • Students on programmes with low performing DLHE – courses with a KPI below benchmark as a whole or for specific student groups (splits).

Implementing a new Employability Partnership Model

As part of the Employability Plan, we will implement a new Employability Business Partnership model with the aim of improving highly skilled employment or further study. To achieve this, our central Employability offer needs to be high impact, consistent and innovative. The core offer is built on the following principles:

  • Employability activity and student engagement is measured for impact.
  • Our offer is accessible for all students at all levels.
  • Students have access to specialist Careers and Employability support through dedicated Employability Business Partner (EBP) Faculty delivery teams, including Faculty Lead Careers Consultants, Employability Advisers with departmental caseloads and a Faculty Employer Partnerships Officer.
  • We will attract more and better employment opportunities for our students during their studies and upon graduation.

Targeted Support and Employability Partnership Agreements

To deliver improved graduate outcomes we need to adopt a more flexible approach to resourcing and prioritise our resource to:

  • Support subject areas with poor DLHE/Graduate Outcomes performance
  • Support students with protected characteristics
  • Using the recent SF RAG ratings we have established the Departments that require additional support, therefore they will be prioritised for targeted support through the ACHIEVE programme.

In 2017/18 Employability Partnership Agreements (EPAs) were agreed with Assistant Deans and Heads of Department in all four faculties: