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Exploring the perspectives of engineering undergraduates on employability and employability building activities

Exploring the perspectives of engineering undergraduates on employability and employability... This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of engineering students' perceptions of the meaning of employability and the activities that contribute to employability development.Design/methodology/approachA survey was used to take a cross-section of student perspectives at key stages in the degree, and was followed by a series of focus groups to further explore student opinions on employability. Responses to selected open-ended questions and relevant sections of focus group transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.FindingsIt was found that students have different perspectives on the meaning of employability, with the majority describing employability as having the right skills, attributes or competencies. Employability development activities were integrated into three broad categories: developing engineering knowledge, skills and industry experience; career building and industry awareness; and degree progression and completion. Participants also identified barriers to employability development and suggested areas for improvement.Practical implicationsThe study recommends university staff ensure there is a shared understanding of employability within the student cohort by explicitly reframing employability as being about becoming a professional and that students are repeatedly exposed to the relevant set of industry competencies or standards. The study also outlines a range of activities that students connect to their employability development.Originality/valueThe findings of this study will assist university staff across the sector to make decisions about how they can best support employability development in their undergraduate students. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Higher Education Skills and Work-based Learning Emerald Publishing

Exploring the perspectives of engineering undergraduates on employability and employability building activities

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References (39)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2042-3896
DOI
10.1108/heswbl-05-2022-0111
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study was conducted to gain a better understanding of engineering students' perceptions of the meaning of employability and the activities that contribute to employability development.Design/methodology/approachA survey was used to take a cross-section of student perspectives at key stages in the degree, and was followed by a series of focus groups to further explore student opinions on employability. Responses to selected open-ended questions and relevant sections of focus group transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach.FindingsIt was found that students have different perspectives on the meaning of employability, with the majority describing employability as having the right skills, attributes or competencies. Employability development activities were integrated into three broad categories: developing engineering knowledge, skills and industry experience; career building and industry awareness; and degree progression and completion. Participants also identified barriers to employability development and suggested areas for improvement.Practical implicationsThe study recommends university staff ensure there is a shared understanding of employability within the student cohort by explicitly reframing employability as being about becoming a professional and that students are repeatedly exposed to the relevant set of industry competencies or standards. The study also outlines a range of activities that students connect to their employability development.Originality/valueThe findings of this study will assist university staff across the sector to make decisions about how they can best support employability development in their undergraduate students.

Journal

Higher Education Skills and Work-based LearningEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 8, 2023

Keywords: Employability; Curriculum design; Qualitative methods

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