Involving alumni in careers education

The December 2011 edition of Bioscience Education included an account I wrote concerning our Careers After Biological Science (CABS) programme at the University of Leicester. The CABS series of careers talks was started in 2007. Since 2009 it has been supported and enhanced by the Bioscience careers blog which includes copies of the slides used in the presentations, as well as a variety of videos and/or audio recordings.

As the Abstract of the paper states:

Graduate employability is an important concern for contemporary universities. Alongside the development of employability skills, it is also crucial that students of bioscience, a ‘non-vocational’ subject, have awareness of the breadth of potential careers that can follow from their initial degree.

Over the past five years we have developed the Careers After Biological Science (CABS) programme. Former students are invited back to describe their current role and offer practical advice to undergraduates who may be considering moving into a similar discipline. The speakers’ career profiles and associated resources are then collated onto an open-access website for the benefit of the wider community.

This project is characterised by two principal innovations; the pivotal role of alumni in the delivery of careers education, and the integrated use of multiple social media (web2.0) technologies in both the organisation of careers events and development of an open access repository of careers profiles and associated resources.

To read the full article “Here’s one we prepared earlier”: involving former students in careers advice click here.


Graduate employability: a growing concern

During the research for a recently-submitted paper, I decided to investigate the rising importance of graduate employability as a concern for universities (and the wider society). As an indicator of this trend I searched Google Scholar for articles with “graduate” and “employability” in the title – the results are shown in the chart below.

A survey of Google Scholar looking at the number of articles published over past thirty years with "graduate" and "employability" in the title

The increase in papers on graduate employability is striking, but probably not a surprise. Having done this research, however, I elected not to include the data in the paper. Why? My main concern was uncertainty about appropriate controls for the fact that there has been a general increase in information (specifically academic literature) during the same period. I was therefore uncomfortable about the dangers of over-interpretation.

Should I have worried? Is it a valid observation? What could serve as a legitimate control?  Any thoughts gratefully received.