2012 Embedding innovative practice: employers as partners in ensuring graduate employability

Tanya Miles-Berry and Nicola Cadet

Criminology has run two successful Employability Fairs, with a third planned for September. This has been assisted with embedding work related learning into our new Programme, and a number of initiatives are now being impacted as a direct result. 

This paper will outline the function of the Fair, how this has provided a number of different learning opportunities for our students to enhance experience and evidence graduate attributes through proactive and meaningful engagement with employers across the sector. 

We offer 2 modules, one at level 5 and one at level 6 where volunteering and employment roles attract credit through space being created for work related activities, complemented with face to face teaching around making links between practice, theory, academic knowledge and reflection to assess their learning and understanding of the volunteer opportunity they have undertaken. 

We also offer simulation modules which have been devised in collaboration with outside agencies, with the whole module, from design, to implementation and assessment being tailored to the graduate attributes identified by employers in our sector. 

The links with Practitioners through the Employability Fair proved useful, in opening opportunities for volunteering and placements in the first instance, with an additional event planned for the Practitioners themselves to identify further opportunities for our students.  

The paper will conclude that staff skills required to broker and foster such relationships are as critical as the skills being developed by students themselves.  Furthermore, the employer offer has to be explicit and transparent.  

It is our contention that ‘Employability Fairs’ can be emulated across the University and once these relationships have been established, further opportunities for collaboration will follow. These opportunities can be developed on a Departmental level and will not necessarily follow the model that we have outlined. 

A number of barriers to success have been established: 

Firstly, as a University wide Agenda, there is a danger that specific agencies may be over saturated with requests due to both duplication and a lack of awareness that an agency has already become involved. This in turn may endanger the initial relationship which has been established and lead to that relationship breaking down. 

Secondly, a number of organisations/individuals may become involved with a specific subject group – even though there is clear potential for cross-departmental or even cross-faculty involvement particularly across joint programmes. 

If we are to encourage true collaboration across both Department and Faculty, we need to ensure that a working policy is devised in order that the relationships which are cultivated on an individual basis are not jeopardised in our quest to secure work based learning opportunities for our students across the University. 

Furthermore, we will argue that fundamental to this policy is the need to ensure that a specific individual is identified within each Department, who will meet across Faculty to ensure that the policy can be developed and sustained.

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A2 – (FU10) 11.00