Carving a Niche for Graduate Employability: Means and Measures

Carving a Niche for Graduate Employability: Means and Measures

Mohammed Saud, Trinette Fernandes, Punam Datt
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4210-4.ch005
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This chapter aims to explain the professional training received by university students to craft their employability skills and the way the learning outcomes are tested. It is of vital importance for students to emerge as successful professionals and entrepreneurs with unique attributes. They are required to develop and demonstrate skillsets that meet the expectations of prospective employers in the industry. The National University of Science and Technology, Oman has recognised this need and is committed to providing its students a learning experience that enables them to make a signature presence in the world of work and business. Thus, the university has developed a structured approach to integrate employability and self-employability skills development courses into the curriculum for all students across various study programs and has designed robust methods and techniques to teach and to test the learning outcomes so as to make the assessment and evaluation meaningful and effective.
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Employability is taken as a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy. – Mantz Yorke (2006)

The demand for graduates to successfully master a wide range of employability skills is the current trend that is now being emphasised by industry employers and experts. Hind & Moss (2009) claimed that employability skills have become part and parcel of education, especially since the 1990s where momentum was gained from the understanding that employers give high weightage to the personal skills of graduates’ recruit. The employers explicitly state that ideally young graduates are required to demonstrate a positive outlook, be logical and practical, and be prepared to take on a wide range of roles. Cottrell (2015) said that employability is the outcome of capability, preparedness for employment, and the relevance of these to the current job market. Graduates should be able to communicate well and work collaboratively, and their behaviours should reflect qualities of taking initiatives and motivating oneself to give the best in the workplace. The National University of Science and Technology, Oman recognises these qualities which are highly prized by employers and hence a meticulously planned curriculum with hands on experience and well-defined assessment structure is in place to pave the way for graduates to come out with a visible employability brand.

The curriculum endeavours to develop self-marketing skills and, needless to say, self-employability skills. It further aims to establish an understanding of multicultural working environments and work ethics, the context within which the employability skills curriculum in fact operates. It is in itself a strong toolkit fashioned to improve critical thinking and reflection for continued professional development.


The Curriculum Context

The essence of designing a curriculum for employability skills is the human capital build up. The University management is regularly in consultation with the industry and the key stakeholders like ministries and manpower consultants to facilitate training programs for the graduates to excel in their workplaces. The wider consideration here is to transform the graduates to be valuable contributors to the nation build up, and ultimately to be responsible global citizens. The University is conscious of articulating the context in which the curriculum nurtures skills and competencies that will be lauded in the career market.

The curriculum on employability skills is developed by a team of professionals who are in constant liaising with stakeholders for better sustainability. The team of professionals comprises of faculty from across disciplines, departments, and programmes. It also includes government nominees, industry experts, external examiners, management executives, quality personnel, and student body representatives. Accordingly, the first line document course descriptor is prepared which formulates the learning outcomes, the content, learning teaching strategy, and the assessment structure of the course. This is followed by a course handbook which specifies the objectives, describes the content, and provides the training plan. The course then undergoes a pilot run and submitted for formal approval through quality procedures. An apex student body too gives its feedback which further firms up the module content and assessment structure. The entire development process considers the demands of the job market in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, and contingency situations like economic recessions, regulatory aspects, environmental upsets, technological advancements, demographic parameters, and pandemics impacting manpower needs. Further, the University external examiners give their feedback on the course documents to ensure that the content meets the academic standards and accommodates industry trends. Moreover, the coursework, being a major assessment tool, comes under the remit of the external examiners which ensure the adequacy and appropriateness of the same. The valued comments of the external examiners are taken on board and the course content is firmed up. The course developed and tested thus is refurbished constantly to accommodate the internal consistency so as to meet multi-disciplinary graduate requirements and external adaptation in terms of wider market scenarios.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Marketing Portfolio: A professional standard folder that contains all the required documents and evidence related to job search and job interview that helps a job seeker to impress the employer and ultimately to win a job.

Curriculum: The total experience a learner undergoes in the process of learning.

Employability Skills: The wide range of skills that are emphasised by employers while recruiting candidates for various jobs.

Evaluation: The process of making calculated judgement about the value of something in order to make appropriate decisions to further an action.

Self-Marketing: Ability to sell one’s skills and competencies to those who are seeking, especially to an employer.

Personal Commercial: An oral self-marketing tool that is used to deliver one’s achievements and accomplishments in not more than 60 seconds to an individual or group selection panel in order to make appropriate decisions for a job or other placement.

Career Biography: A self-marketing tool normally in the written form that is submitted by a job seeker to an employer that furnishes their career history so as to win a job placement.

Learning Experience: The interaction in which learning takes place that ultimately leads to change in behaviour of the learner.

Self-Employability Skills: Skills that are required for starting one’s own business as a means to earn money.

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