Eurasian Higher Education Leaders’ Forum 2015
Graduate Employability in the 21st Century
Many HEIs around the world state in their mission statements and strategies that they are preparing students to live and work in a globalized society, through developing global skills, global competences and/or global citizenship in their formal and informal curricula. But what exactly are HEIs doing, how are they doing it, and what are the outcomes? Key questions to be addressed in this session include the following:
a. How is global competence/citizenship defined by HEIs, and how is it developed through the formal and informal curriculum?
b. What are the rationales used to link global skills/competences to students’ futures?
c. How are global competences/skills assessed, and to what extent do students actually develop global competences by the point of graduation?
d. Are global competences considered necessary for all students, or just for a minority?
e. If all HEI’s are developing these skills, will these skills become commoditized?
Perceptions of Employability, Skills and Individual Aspiration in a Diversifying Economy
It is often said that there is a mismatch between employability skills and practical skills for specific jobs. As Andreas Schleicher remarked in an OECD Forum in 2012, “The challenges are to develop skills for jobs that do not yet exist, to use technologies that we have not yet invented, to solve problems that we didn't realise we had.” Key questions to be addressed in this session include the following:
a. How have the skills required by employers changed over the past 20 years, and how do employers expect these skills to change over the next 20 years?
b. How are national “skills strategies” implemented through higher education to promote employability? (http://skills.oecd.org/documents/oecdskillsstrategy.html)?
c. Which should be more important to employers – specific, practical skills to do a job immediately, or more general “21st century skills” for longer-term employability? Why?
d. How do employers assess and evaluate the skills of university graduates at the point of employment?
e. Which employers successfully invest in the human capital of their employees?
One key issue in employability is the relationships that can and should exist between universities, employers and communities. While this is a more major concern in some disciplines (e.g. engineering, nursing) than in others (e.g. literature, sociology), the readiness of graduates for employment is an issue to be considered by all stakeholders. Key questions to be addressed in this session include the following:
a. What expectations do employers hold of HEIs in terms of preparing new graduates in different disciplines, and do HEIs share and meet these expectations?
b. How do HEIs work in collaboration with employers to meet the needs of the current and future workplace?
c. How can internships, volunteering and similar experiences be used to greatest benefit for students, employers and universities?
d. How are the needs of local and regional communities reflected in HEI-employer partnerships?
Role of TVET in Career Development
For many careers, technical and vocational education is more appropriate than higher education to prepare students for the workplace. At the same time, as many jobs become more technically complex, there is a growing convergence between TVET and higher education in terms of competences and skills that are developed. Key questions to be addressed in this session include the following:
a. What can HEIs learn from TVET institutions (and vice versa) in terms of employability?
b. How do TVET institutions work in partnership with employers and communities as skill needs change?
c. How are TVET curricula and co-curricular activities designed to develop students’ employability?
d. What are students’ experiences of TVET in terms of its contribution to career development?
Student Transitions and Careers Guidance
It is widely recognized that there are many different pathways from school to higher education and higher education to work that impact the employability of higher education graduates. This session considers some of ways that school education provides the foundation of graduate employability, and some of the ways that transitions from school to higher education and higher education to work are managed. Key questions to be addressed in this session include the following:
a. How does the secondary education curriculum foster career aspirations and provide skills and guidance for higher education and future career paths?
b. What (academic, social, economic) factors affect students’ choice of higher education institution and area of study?
c. How do schools and universities partner and interact with each other in order to facilitate smooth student transition?
d. What are the most effective curricular and co-curricular forms of career planning in higher education institutions which facilitate a smooth transition to employment?