Students' reflections on an employability skills provision

Scott, Fraser J. and Willison, Debra (2021) Students' reflections on an employability skills provision. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 45 (8). pp. 1118-1133. ISSN 0309-877X (

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For many years, a key driver for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has been ensuring that students are prepared for employment post-graduation. This has often resulted in HEIs providing specific modules of study focussing on employability and soft skills. The existing research literature presents a variety of strategies for embedding employability within curricula, often focusing on frameworks to review the provision of employability opportunities within a degree programme. The authors have previously investigated an employability module within an Undergraduate Chemistry Programme at their UK HEI, particularly focusing on students’ perceptions–these coalesced around the themes of personal progression, relevance of the module and interactions. However, before using these findings to further develop the module, it was deemed necessary to investigate the module in a different context. This study investigates the employability module in an Australian HEI and its delivery to undergraduate and postgraduate students from a range of different disciplines. Free text comments from questionnaires answered by 85 participants were subjected to thematic analysis in order to understand students’ perceptions of the module in this new context. The new thematic map was compared to that from the original study to reveal several key similarities and differences between students’ perceptions. However, the most important finding is thast employability modules should be tailored to a specific cohort to ensure they are aligned with their needs. This suggests that Central University employability module providers should work closely with individual departments to maximise the impact of these for students.