Improving the employability of students from higher education equity groups

Year: 2016

Author: Luckman, Michael, Szalkowicz, Giovanna, Edwards, Daniel, Wilson, Jacqueline, Mestan, Kemran

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This international research project examines the employability of students from equity groups across three higher education systems: the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. The project, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, aims to promote more equitable implementation of university strategies to promote employability and graduate outcomes among diverse student groups.In increasingly competitive labour markets, employers are seeking more qualified, technically skilled, and versatile candidates. Higher education institutions are responding with more emphasis on employability. There is a focus on developing technical, discipline-specific skills as well as broader skills, such as planning, problem solving, and team work. Employability skills are being cultivated through the expansion of work-integrated learning, industry collaboration, internships, placements, overseas study, and other career development activities. Geo-demographic characteristics such as socio-economic background, race, ethnicity, culture, and gender have an effect on student employability. Students from different geo-demographic groups do not have the same access to high status institutions, the fields of education associated with higher salaries, effective career development opportunities, or valuable business networks. Institutional employability strategies need to systematically address equity issues to ensure disadvantaged is redressed rather than reinforced. Targeted policies and practices are needed to ensure students from disadvantaged backgrounds are better prepared to gain employment and have successful careers.We examine academic literature and specific graduate outcome data for students from equity groups in Australia and make cross-national comparisons with the United Kingdom and the United States. Primary data stems from surveys of both managers of careers services and student representatives from Australian public universities about issues of equity and employability.