Embedding employer engagement and employability into Masters programmes: process, implementation and evaluation

Joanne Dickinson, Ruth Binns, Aysha Divan

Abstract


Currently there are limited publications describing employability training and employer engagement in Masters (postgraduate taught) programmes and how these can be utilised to maximise student chances of progressing to the next stage of their careers. The latter is particularly important, given that a key motivation for graduates pursuing a postgraduate qualification is to enhance their employment prospects. In this paper we provide a framework for actively engaging employers in contributing to the design and delivery of Masters training. We outline the challenges posed and the mutual benefits of such partnerships. We also evaluate students’ perception of the value of the activities embedded within the programme and how these may enhance their employment prospects. Activities included; the provision of short work-based (research) placements, teaching delivered by employers and a series of career development activities. Student evaluation at the end of the year (N=46) showed that between 58-87% (depending on activity-type) of students found these opportunities to be of value particularly in increasing their awareness of what employers look for in graduates, improving their ability to present themselves in a more professional manner and in improving their awareness of the diversity of careers they could progress onto on completion of their Masters programme. Given that student’s perceive a Masters qualification to be an important step in preparing them for the next stage of their careers, engaging employers in informing the content of the curriculum and skills set required of the pool of graduates they recruit from is of paramount importance.

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