MODULE 1: What is employability?

MODULE 1: What is employability?

“What is employability? … Why is employability important? … Employer expectations … How you can develop your employability … Our research into employability”
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Summaries

  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Insights into employability
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Explore further: Understanding employability
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Explore further: Key influences on employability
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 2: Why is employability important? > Why we think employability is important
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 2: Why is employability important? > Graduate and student insights into why employability is important
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 3: Employer expectations > What do employers expect?
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 3: Employer expectations > Explore further: What makes an employable graduate
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 4: How you can develop your employability > Employability development through experience
  • MODULE 1: What is employability? > 4: How you can develop your employability > Insights into living a proactive life

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Insights into employability

  • Knowing how to communicate really professionally is a big one.
  • KEVIN To me, employability is a collection of achievement, like skill, knowledge, experiences, and a personal attribute, thus make a people more likely to get a job and also successfully finish that job with minimum instruction.
  • EMILY I think to me, the term ’employability’ is really about taking those experiences that you learn in either in real life or in university and applying that to the workforce.
  • PETER I think that ’employability’ is a word that people kind of just use for the sake of using it.
  • I actually think employability is more about who you are as a person and how that person can operate within a work environment.
  • CLAUDIA For me, the term ’employability’ is probably more about focusing on what you can deliver once you’ve found a job and less about the recruitment process.
  • That’s what employability for me means, because each time you are starting something new.
  • You’re starting something with a new team, they do not know you yet and so employability is about developing that credibility pathway.
  • For me that’s what employability represents in my context.
  • CRAIG I think employability for me, really focuses on two components.
  • One being the skills and abilities you bring to a role in terms of what you can actually do for an organisation and I think that distinction is pretty important in terms of what you can do for an organisation as opposed to what you are trying to get out of an organisation.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Explore further: Understanding employability

  • DENISE In terms of what employability means, I think there’s a lot of confusion between employability and employment outcomes.
  • Whereas, employment is about actually just achieving-employment outcomes is about achieving a job, and that’s one measure of employability.
  • NICK For me, employability is, in a narrow sense, it’s the skills, the knowledge, the personal attributes that an individual possesses which enables them to obtain a job, maintain that job, and move jobs overtime.
  • We need to understand it in its relative context, in the sense of how they measure up against other people that they might be going for in terms of a job but also in terms of how they are able to express those skills, those attributes, and so on, and that’s on the basis of the experience they may have had and how they explain those experiences of having an impact on an individual to make them more competent in relation to a particular job.
  • It’s not about measuring how somebody got the job, can somebody get the job.
  • It’s about gaining entry into whatever profession, whatever job they want to go into.
  • MICHAEL What distinguishes employability from employment, I think, is that employability is a more active process.
  • It’s very much about the individual taking responsibility for their own job market futures, and it’s a lifelong process.
  • It doesn’t stop at any finite point, so… people have to continually work on their employability, I think, through the whole of their working lives, and there’s no one-stop finite point where they’re employable and then enter the job market for a long period of time.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 1: What is employability? > Explore further: Key influences on employability

  • MICHAEL What factors impact on people’s employability? I think they can be seen- that can be seen from a number of different levels, really.
  • I mean, the first is the structural, the context, labour market, and when labor market conditions are quite challenging where there’s-it’s become increasingly difficult to get the types of employment that you want.
  • We don’t think in terms of a job for life anymore.
  • We think in terms of different phases and different sequences of employment.
  • I think graduates are very conscious of that move towards, if you like, the self-managed career rather than working in a company for a very long duration of your life and moving up incrementally.
  • I think it’s really about-the changing nature of careers is an important context there.
  • ALEX I think we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that employability is just about the individual, you know, I have complete control over my employability, so it’s my skills and my qualifications and my experience.
  • Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s important.
  • I still think that that is the major element, but there are all of the other things, all of the external factors that are important to it, you know, what is the labour market and the economic situation we’ve had over the past few years? It’s really demonstrated that actually the external labour market is very, very important.
  • It’s important to understand the extracurricular stuff that students can do, whether that’s employment, part-time employment, career-related employment, volunteering, studying abroad, work placements, internships, and so on.
  • We need to understand the whole other social context that determines whether someone is employable or not, and that might be some illegitimate factors which determine whether someone is able to get the type of employment they want- for example, their social class, their gender, their ethnicity, and so on, because we know that these things have an impact on people’s ability to get employment.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 2: Why is employability important? > Why we think employability is important

  • ANNA Imagine you’re sitting with other candidates, waiting to be called for a job interview.
  • Look around you! If it were up to you, would you hire the person next to you? Do you think they’d be good at doing the job? Do you think they’d hire you? ANDREA You may have heard people say that a degree is not enough.
  • Not performing in your job can have a negative impact on your organisation.
  • We understand, of course, that you can’t demonstrate that you can perform well in a job if you don’t get a job.
  • This is why both gaining a job and performing effectively in it are the two key dimensions of employability.
  • Let’s hear different perspectives on why employability is important.
  • ISIS I think it’s a very important question nowadays, mainly because we’re in a very globalised, very challenging, and competitive world.
  • APRIL Graduate employability is really important because we want the best people for the job.
  • LUCY Employability is important to me because I think when you’re hired by an employer, you’re hired on the expectation that you’re going to perform in that role.
  • With me in PR, I can say, “I can write a press release. I can write a blog. I can do social media,” but if I walk into that role and then my sentences aren’t very coherent and I’m not actually producing things that I’ve said I can, then I’m probably not going to last very long in that role.
  • NINA I think employability is important because it takes you from being someone on a piece of paper that an employer looks at to someone who’s sitting in a room who’s contributing to a meeting, who’s actually creating social change.
  • I think it’s also really important because it, kind of, gives you longevity as well.
  • DAMIAN Why should students care about employability? I think one of the reasons to me is that the more employable you are, the more obviously you’ll be likely to get a job.
  • The quicker you’ll get a job, and hopefully, a job in your area which can help hone the skills that are applied to the area or profession that you’ve worked towards.
  • When I talk about a career, I don’t necessarily say a job in one company for your life.
  • The sooner you do that, the better and I think that’s really to me, the key to employability.
  • It’s again getting the job, getting the job in the right area, keeping that job and doing a good job, making sure you’re successful in that job, so you can start to build a career.
  • ANNA So you can see that employability isn’t just about “Talking the talk”.
  • REA So now you know what employability is AND why it is important.
  • From here on in, we’ll show you how to develop your employability so you have the best chance of getting a job, enjoying a career and making a valuable contribution to society.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 2: Why is employability important? > Graduate and student insights into why employability is important

  • CRAIG Employability is important because you do tend to see job applicants go one of two ways.
  • I think what employability is really about from the job seeker’s side is actually kind of saying well, “This is how I can help you solve your business problems. This is how I can contribute to your organisation.” Finding how you can apply the specific skills and abilities and things that you learnt in university into a workplace context to actually helps that business.
  • EMILY I think employability is important to me in the sense that regardless of the experiences that you have, or how much you’ve learned, you really need to apply those in a setting in order to develop in your job, or not only just get jobs but learn how to use those skills and become a more developed employee in whatever field you’re looking towards.
  • WILL Employability to me-at the moment, honestly, it isn’t something I think about on a day-to-day basis, but looking back at my time at uni, it was incredibly important.
  • PETER I think employability is important – it’s because it’s all around self-development, and if you’re not actively developing who you are or the different skills and attributes that you’ve got, then you’re kind of just coasting.
  • I think it’s really important for you to have that focus because if you then develop who you are as yourself, then you are able to show your attitude towards yourself, then towards the team that you might be working with, then towards the business that you might be working for, and then how you then-all of those different things interact with society.
  • The second reason why I think employability is very important is-many study have shown that the lifespan of organisation nowadays is getting shorter.
  • To be able to maintain employment through your life, you actually have to have the capacity to move within the job, to adapt in new working experiment, learning environment, and also to be able to communicate with experts from the multiple disciplines and that is so important! KAHLIA I think there’s two things.
  • The first one is: being able to demonstrate all those skills is really important to get a job.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 3: Employer expectations > What do employers expect?

  • REA Have you looked at a job ad recently? Have you noticed that there is often a long list of requirements? Commitment, teamwork, communication skills, problem solving.
  • How do you know exactly what employers are looking for? ANDREA If you search online for “Employer expectations” you’ll find the same things coming up all the time.
  • Leading career development authorities and associations around the world have, for many years, compiled lists of employer expectations based on research into what employers look for in new graduates.
  • Let’s look at the recent research results from Australia and the US. ANNA As you can see from these lists from Australia and the US, employers value a mix of technical skills, as in your degree knowledge and skills, and personal qualities.
  • So they’ve recognised that they require people with technical knowledge and skills as well as certain personal qualities.
  • If you are a structural engineer your technical skills allow you to design a bridge that won’t fall down, but if you can’t communicate your design ideas or work effectively with your project team members, it might never get built.
  • SHARON The skills that we look for when hiring new graduates, particularly in the Queensland Government, is resilience, flexibility, and adaptability.
  • We look for strong problem-solving skills, people who identify not only what the problem is but the options for solving that.
  • We need strong interpersonal skills, because our graduates deal with a very wide range of clients and customers, and that could be landholders, it could be any member of the public, and it could be federal government representatives.
  • I think, I have been looking for almost the same thing over those 27 years.
  • I look for people who I think have got the right aptitude for working in the PR industry.
  • I’m looking for that sort of attitude as well, a real go-getting attitude.
  • I’m looking for a mix of the raw skills that I need that I can bring on and develop, and then the attitude to make the most of everything that is brought to them.
  • BRANT When we’re hiring graduates, the primary skills and attributes we are looking for are professionalism, solid communication skills and reliability.
  • We look for, again, that passion for working, and that would be quite important to us that someone has the passion.
  • We look for, I guess, other things like communication skills would be very important.
  • REA So you can see that while there is some variation in what employers look for in employees.
  • Basically, they’re looking for BOTH technical skills AND personal qualities.
  • ANNA If you remember one thing from this video remember this: employers definitely want people to have done well in their degrees but just as importantly they are looking for people who have the qualities and attributes that will make them successful in the role so they can make a valuable contribution to their organisation.
  • So when you’re reading a list of job requirements, you now know it’s the combination of your technical skills and your personal qualities that employers are expecting.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 3: Employer expectations > Explore further: What makes an employable graduate

  • It’s somebody who knows what they want and knows which skills they’ve got are important and is able to articulate those to an employer.
  • If you look at some of the graduate skills framework, for example, there’s more than 80 different items that appear in those.
  • Knowing which ones you are strong at and knowing which ones an employer is going to need, THAT is an employable graduate.
  • Then somebody who can take that and say, “I’ve got it. This is the evidence that I’ve got it,” and be confident in the way that they put that across, I think that’s an employable graduate.
  • JON In our work with employers, the feedback is that employers want them to stand out.
  • What would give me confidence in the workplace? What will allow me to keep working, turn up the next day if the going gets difficult? NICK Beyond an employable graduate on paper, then we need to understand that employable graduate in person, and that might be someone that understands recruitment processes, understands culture, the culture of an organisation, understands the nature of the world of work, if you like, and understands the job they’re applying for and how those skills and attributes directly relate to that particular job.
  • MICHAEL It’s someone, I think, who has the technical ability, the ability to get the job done, pretty sort of elementary things, like common sense, practicality, resourcefulness, hard skills that I think employers will be able to discern when they see a graduate.
  • I think employers like to see quite well-rounded, balanced individuals.
  • I think people who are quite socially adaptive and can prove that they can work in an organisation, but they want, I think, balance so they might value someone who’s a maverick and who can think outside the box and take risk, but are those dispositions containable or are they going to lead to the graduate going too far on their own path? There’s an element, I think, of slight conservativism amongst employers, but nonetheless I think they’re looking for a balanced profile.
  • DENISE I think making a graduate look employable would be them having the technical skills and the non-technical skills to perform in the organisation.
  • Then all employers are looking for what we term ‘soft skills’.
  • The motivation, the motivation to constantly develop and to keep developing their own skill set and to help that employer, that sector move forward, that is really important.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 4: How you can develop your employability > Employability development through experience

  • What were you doing? Were you travelling? Were you at a party where you didn’t know anyone? Maybe you were giving a speech? Stepping out of your comfort zone or trying something new gives you the opportunity to develop new skills and grow as a person.
  • REA Employers expect graduates to have a degree and all the discipline knowledge and skills that come with it.
  • How do you develop it? Probably not from a textbook – but from experience.
  • ANNA We can’t give you a magic formula or model to follow – you simply need to be experiencing many things in life.
  • By not exposing yourself to a variety of different experiences you might be living life – but you’re not proactively “Doing life”.
  • Learning comes from facing a challenge or experiencing setbacks, and definitely by stepping out of your comfort zone.
  • You need to think about what you are doing outside of your degree that gives you the chance to try new things and face challenges.
  • If you think about it, you may already be doing some things.
  • Employers are looking for people who can DO a job and that is about all the things that make you effective in that job.
  • How do you develop these communication skills, for example? Some skills will be taught to you directly through your degree.
  • Others you will gain through experiences that may seem unrelated to the development of your ’employability’.
  • The trick is learning to recognise what you have developed, ESPECIALLY if it’s not a workplace experience.
  • What do these things have in common? All of these are opportunities for you to develop the capabilities, attitudes and attributes that employers expect.
  • For most people, studying overseas is a new experience that often comes with challenges simply because you are in an unfamiliar environment.
  • ALEX Experiential learning as a valuable way to develop employability I think is the most important thing.
  • I do quite a lot of research into learning, training and development.
  • Transfer of learning is much stronger if it’s experiential, which again means it’s much more likely to become a behaviour or life-long habit.
  • They actually know also that graduates don’t have experience.
  • So what the graduate should be doing is to get any kind of experience they can get.
  • Universities can help there because we’re running working integrated learning, placements, internships – they are very important things for the universities to do.
  • The students have to take that on board they have to get involved as much as possible in any of those experiential learning practices.
  • So non-work experiences and they are very diverse they can be a sport, they can be the travel that young people increasingly are doing.
  • We see a lot of kids at school are involved in many, many different things.
  • ANNA So you can see that learning from experience is vital for employability development.
  • As Alex said, transfer is stronger if you learn through experience and you are more likely to adopt the new behaviours over a lifetime.
  • REA Essentially, we’re saying that you need to go out and experience life but do so being AWARE that everything that you do is an opportunity to grow and develop the attributes that employers are looking for.
  • The key will be to work out what you’ve learned from the activities you’ve been involved in.

MODULE 1: What is employability? > 4: How you can develop your employability > Insights into living a proactive life

  • Especially, playing sports demonstrates that they are willing to be part of a team, work hard in order to achieve high performance.
  • Actually you’re doing other things trying to diversify your skills and broaden your perspective as a person and so we like to see well-rounded people and so it’s that involvement and things above and beyond the classroom.
  • It’s important, what are your extracurricular achievements as well? Are you a volunteer, or are you a member of a sports club, of a social club, or a student society? Do something on top and be special, then you’re interesting for employer, for EY, and especially for the recruiters that have to read your applications.
  • TAHLYA In terms of the candidates that we see, I think often they think that well rounded means working in a number of different areas.
  • I think it’s important to look at well rounded in a different aspect in terms of the communication sales that you can bring or the different industries maybe that you’ve worked in but in a similar role.
  • That’s really what well rounded looks to us, having a lot of exposure to a lot of different areas, but still showing focus in a certain area that you’re willing to go into.
  • KRIS Things I’ve done around university and in general, there’s a lot of volunteer opportunities.
  • Student services here on campus tends to have quite a few of these opportunities to help other students in one matter or another.
  • A few of the programs, something called the Jump Start Academic Preparation Program, runs as the orientation week for new students.
  • Another program is called Chat Mates, which allows international students to join a group.
  • Through this, I’ve made connections and found out people who are working in different positions.
  • Now, I have a position within UQ for a casual job, working with student relations team, which does something similar, but now I get paid for it.
  • STEPH While I’ve been at UQ, I started out volunteering for Student Services as a student leader.
  • A lot of the programs involved helping out first-year students to help them settle in to university life.
  • That is also the primary objective of the Student Relations Team, which I’m currently working for right now.
  • That’s where pro bono comes in because we work closely with the UQ Pro Bono Centre, and they offer a lot of opportunities for students to volunteer for different legal work like community legal centres, advocacy work, legal organisations, and even research projects.
  • It’s the introduction to economic program where I had a chance to talk and to work with international student from different country going here and doing Master and PhD degree.
  • Then I also recently came back from a fantastic internship in DC working in a congressional office for a congresswoman from California.
  • I also chose Colombia because I thought it would be really challenging, rather than choosing Europe, where I had previously travelled before.
  • I’m probably one of the only international students that had a job.
  • I think it’s what experiences has she had. That’s the main reason why I’ve come on the exchange to show employers that I can do this, and I can take what I’ve learned and put it into practice, which is the main thing that I’ve gotten out of exchange.
  • WILL What did I do to develop my employability? I think that’s a really good question.
  • I think I’m quite a good case study for that because I did the classic high-schooler to university student transition, in that I didn’t really care all that much about my grades.
  • I didn’t really concern myself with where I wanted to be in the future.
  • I realised that the kind of place that I would be satisfied working at professionally wouldn’t be satisfied with me at that particular point in time.
  • Some of the things I went about to improve that-and that was 100 percent about fixing my employability-was getting involved more with co-curricular activities both within and external to UQ. I did a lot of inter-faculty sport.
  • I really sort of-actually, thinking about it, the best part of that was the story I was then able to tell to employers because when my academic transcript came up as a topic of discussion in interviews, as it invariably did, there was always this, “So, what happened in third year, Will?” I told basically that story.
  • Yes, I mean, those are some of the things I did at UQ to help develop it.
  • One of the ones that really stood out for me was a really good opportunity we had with the business school that we did in collaboration with the School of Journalism and Communication, where we basically worked at an advertising agency in Brisbane to develop a project for Queensland Health.
  • I did two really prominent volunteering jobs while I was there to me.
  • The next one I did was for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, where I volunteered as a dresser, which had nothing to do with PR at all, but it really exposed me to the fashion industry.
  • I tried a lot from about my second-year onwards into get as much interning work as I could.
  • I think that was really useful for knowing what a practical work context was like.
  • ISIS When I was a student at UQ, beyond my academic background, I really tried to connect with as many people around Brisbane.
  • They provided very good insight about how it was to work within the companies, how it was to work in this specific role.
  • That really helped me to understand also how a business was working really.
  • I was also participating through the commercialisation project with UQ, which really helped me to understand how to work on a project with people who were working in a company, and how to maximise effectiveness of the company as a whole.
  • Really being part of a team and also working independently and understanding how the system was working, that helped me to gain those soft skills that I needed to secure my first job.

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