Employability and Lifelong Learning: How Do We Teach Students to Adapt to a Changing Society?
In a globally changing society, the ‘world of work’ changes rapidly. According to Ashley (2006: 6), this has meant that increasingly, ‘the numbers of people who realize that there is no such thing as a permanent, secure job swell’. Employers are now (a) seeking graduates with a broader set of transferable skills and, essentially, (b) for evidence that such graduates can utilise their skills in a working environment. In short, there is a growing need to improve the employability of graduates. In order to do this, students need to be shown how their skills can be transferred from one context to another, gain a clearer understanding of their abilities, and be able to market themselves effectively to potential graduate employers. It is clearly vital for undergraduates to reflect upon their motivations, values, personal attributes and skills. This process of self-reflection will help students to become, both, fully aware of how compatible they are to a full range of possible career opportunities, and be able to ensure lifelong personal growth. Our ultimate goal for our students is that they go on to lead sustainable, successful and satisfying careers. This was the impetus for initiating the English Language Studies Initiative for Employability (ELSIE) at UCLan, a scheme which embeds employability into the core curriculum for English Language Studies. Thus, the aim of this paper is to explore and explain how the ELSIE team have sought to encourage students to engage in purposeful learning and improve students’ employability. We see employability as a lifelong process in which students are continuously re-evaluating their skills, knowledge, capabilities and personal preferences through effective use of self-reflection and self-awareness. Our ELSIE programme is based around the identification and reflection upon the development of transferable skills and skills sets.
Keywords: Lifelong Learning, Employability, Transferable Skills
Angela Jayne Kilpatrick
ELSIE Project Manager, English Language and Linguistics