Edge Hill has always offered a wide range of opportunities for students to engage with industry to improve their employability and gain the real-world skills they need to succeed in the graduate job market. Now, the Business School is putting employability at the heart of undergraduate study with a new project designed to embed essential employability skills into every undergraduate programme, ensuring all of its students leave fully equipped for the world of work.
Sue Murrin-Bailey, a Senior Lecturer in the Business School who was instrumental in setting up the programme, said:
It’s important that all students enhance their employability, not just the small ‘select’ group that actively seeks out opportunities themselves. We wanted to create an academic environment where every student could easily access opportunities and create their own personal journey both within the University and externally.”
“The Employability Programme responds directly to the needs of key recruiters in the North West and focuses on the ‘soft’, technical and practical skills that graduates can only gain through hands-on experience, and which make them more attractive to prospective employers.”
Students gain these skills through a range of evidence-based reflective learning activities that complement their studies, including opportunities to link with employers, live case studies and projects, mock Assessment Centre days with external organisations, recruitment events and business networking.
“The mock Assessment Centre days, which take place in second year, are particularly beneficial for students,” said Sue, “as they provide them with individual feedback on their skills and highlight strengths and weaknesses. This allows Personal Tutors to support students to self-appraise, self-reflect and self-develop throughout the remainder of their programme of study.”
Since the programme was launched in 2016, students have been involved in developing social marketing solutions for the North West Ambulance Service (for a population of eight million users), a branding initiative for AFG, a health and social care charity, and a marketing strategy for distribution company WCF Logistics.
Access to industry placements are a key part of the Employability Programme. Sam Hilton, a 2nd year Accountancy student, is currently spending a year working as an intern at Vauxhall Motors and believes this experience will give him the edge when applying for graduate jobs.
“I knew that if I did not opt for a placement year I would lack serious valuable experience. I’ve worked in a bar, but so will 90% of other applicants for jobs when I graduate. I knew I needed something that would stand out on my CV and I am so grateful for getting a job with a large brand like Vauxhall. Such an employer name on a CV sticks out to many employers.”
Business and Management graduate Dan Hall has recently begun a career with the RAF as a trainee pilot, and acknowledges the part that work experience played in securing employment.
“My experience at Enterprise and Portatech helped me massively when I was going for interviews,” he said, “and also practically in terms of confidence when speaking in public and confidence in myself. The RAF also loved the fact that I’d set up my own business as it added a rather large string to my bow.”
Sue added: “Students today need to differentiate themselves from their peers. Through our strong links with regional and national organisations, including the Federation of Small Business and Chambers of Commerce, we are able to facilitate networking opportunities and identify potential career links that will help students get their first foot on the employment ladder.”