Social justice and employability: How to embody this in staff collaboration in order to improve student opportunities


Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The Faculty employability strategy includes the Knight and Yorke (2006:8) definition: “A set of achievements- skills, understanding and personal attributes – that makes individuals more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workplace, the community and the economy”to make an explicit link to the impact on community. This is used alongside the University Employability framework of ‘Knowing employability skills’, ‘Knowing employers’, ‘Knowing your employability strengths and being able to practise’ and ‘Knowing how to present as a compelling candidate’To reflect the Faculty strategy traditional organisational and hierarchical structures are challenged, such as the colleagues involved in this submission. This includes academic and professional support staff, staff from across the University and with differing levels of responsibility. Working across traditional boundaries has allowed for perspectives and insights to be shared and for colleagues to battle with innate tensions and challenges within a safe space. Moreover, new initiatives develop quickly and flexibly, for example:A cross-departmental Employer Advisory Panel is being developed building on recent successes within one department and the Work-Related Learning (WRL) team from another Faculty. As a result, there will be a more open-ended approach rather than being a closed, prescriptive model that may have occurred previously. The visual mapping of employability across programmes has benefits for staff delivery, for students and for external stakeholders. Using expertise from the WRL Team, the University Taught Degree framework and academics’ knowledge of the relevant graduate outcomes’ markets, colleagues will be able to review their understanding of employability skills, how these are developed and consider how these are being delivered through their programmes. Underpinning this approach is the interaction between networking/ collaboration and Faculty process. The introduction of the committee has given permission for collaboration to develop quickly from previously existing networks. Also, networks have arisen as a result of the existence of the committee. Furthermore, a key element has been the deliberate decision to minimise the negative impact of traditional boundaries between departments, academic v support staff and hierarchies.The transferability of this approach reflects the new reality that all universities are responding to the introduction of the TEF and the ‘graduate outcomes’ metric. A common response has been an expectation that all academic colleagues have a responsibility to deliver on this whatever their own commercial/ industry experience has been and whatever their philosophical attitude towards Higher Education. Consequently, universities, faculties, departments are facing similar battles. This approach has allowed the Faculty to address the challenge of improving graduate outcomes without compromising the values of staff.Further opportunities for cross-Faculty/ University collaboration and networking are being explored, for example, involving employers and students to participate in this new strategic collaboration and encouraging Education colleagues to shadow staff in other parts of the university. Yorke, M. & Knight, P. (2006) Employability in higher education: What it is – what it is not. (Learning and employability series 1). York. Higher Education Academy
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2020
EventAdvance HE Employability Symposium 2020 : Breaking the Mould - Online, York, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sept 202015 Sept 2020


ConferenceAdvance HE Employability Symposium 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • social justice
  • employability


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