In the Early Years Education Department we define employability as a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations.
The Early Years Education team appreciate that graduate employability has been one of the fundamental foci of universities in the 21st century. Office for Students (2018) state that partnership with employers will continue to be a key priority to ensure that the higher education sector is able to effectively meet the needs of industry at both a national and regional levels.
In order to help our students gain employment in the ECEC sector and be successful in their chosen careers, our Early Years Education programmes provide students with opportunities to:
- Understand the nature of the ECEC labour market, particularly the ‘graduate labour market’, and what employers are looking for in graduates in the ECEC sector;
- Develop their personal reflection and career decision-making skills, so that they are able to make effective career decisions;
- Become aware of the recruitment and selection methods employers utilise and develop the skills to successfully navigate through these processes. In particular, students are supported in their skills and understanding on how to ‘market themselves’ to ECEC employers. Employability-focused activities at levels 5 and 6 have specific focus on the development of these skills via students’ involvement in the mock job application and interview processes, followed by a formative feedback from real employers;
- Develop their ‘personal capital’, i.e. the skills and other attributes (e.g. personality traits, values, etc.) that employers are seeking. Students have opportunities to engage in both curricular and extra-curricular activities offered on the programme. Personal Professional Development strands play a key role in ensuring students reflection on their own progress;
- All Early Years programmes help students understand how their personal development is being enhanced through their engagement with their programme of studies, and all programmes have a clearly identified strategy to help students acquire and develop the skills and attributes they need.
- Employability-based resources on each programme help students develop a strategy for applying for jobs before they enter their final year of study.
In order to help students to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes outlined above, the Early Years team focus not only on what is taught, but on how it is taught. Our programme’s pedagogic approaches encourage activity-based learning, reflection, and provide an environment that mirrors the uncertainty and demands of the workplace, all of which helps our students to develop their employability.
The Early Years programmes teams work closely with the central Career Services to help students identify employment opportunities within the ECEC sector, some of which might include:
• Early Years practitioner/Classteacher
• Nursery practitioner
• Children’s centre practitioner
• Classroom assistant
• Learning support assistant
• Family support practitioner
• Behaviour mentor
• Children’s events coordinator
• Museum Educational Officer
• Early Years Consultant
• SEN support
• Children’s charity worker
• Refugee support worker