Seminar: Beyond employability: Higher education that enables graduates to contribute to organisations

27th Feb 2020, 12:30pm - 2:00pm

Faculty of Education

Employability has become a key focus for higher education in recent years. The approach taken to conceptualising employability, however, frames it as part of a supply-side problem, with higher education institutions equipping graduates with skills and competencies appropriate to the available employment opportunities. As a result, higher education is increasingly seen as a form of investment in a project of the self for economic reward. This seminar reports on a theoretical study drawing on critical realist perspectives that challenges this paradigm, and that offers an alternative based around higher education as a means to prepare students to contribute to both organisations and collectives present within workplaces. The paper develops understanding of the casual tendencies by which contributions are made to workplace collectives, including those that pertain both to the maintenance and transformation of such collectives. It further addresses the means by which universities can prepare students for these contributions, leading to a range of practical strategies to enhance higher education. The seminar concludes by addressing considerations that might lead institutions of higher education to focus on forming their students for an active and critical approach to their working lives and beyond.

Dr Peter Kahn is Director of the Centre for Higher Education Studies, School of Histories, Languages and Cultures, University of Liverpool. He is a Senior Lecturer in Higher Education Studies, and Director of Studies for a fully-online professional doctorate (EdD) in Higher Education. This programme has an established global network of students and alumni. His research is focused on applications of the critical realist paradigm to the study of higher education, covering such areas as reflexivity of staff and students, employability and professional education. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2014, and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is Executive Editor of the journal Teaching in Higher Education. He was a Visiting Professor to Edge Hill University in 2008-09.


  • 12:15-12:30pm – Lunch
  • 12:30-1:15pm – Seminar
  • 1:15-1:45pm – Q&A

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The Higher Education Research Group aims to develop research addressing contemporary issues and dilemmas facing Higher Education faculty staff, managers, students, practitioners and policy makers. It aspires to create an active and inclusive research environment by engaging with key stakeholders and wide audience such as faculty staff, practitioners, students, policy makers, learned societies, and renowned research groups and research institutes.

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