Boosting student and graduate employability through technology
In a challenging labour market, the Careers and Employability Team at the University of Aberdeen harnessed existing technology to quickly design and deliver a new programme of support to meet the needs of students and new graduates in a time of unprecedented change.
A pressing need to convert all normal services to online delivery and the challenge of finding creative and innovative ways to support new graduates who were facing totally unexpected circumstances led to the development of a new skills award programme, the Aberdeen Employability Boost Award.
New programme, new format
Designed to fully support both students and graduates, the new award scheme utilised a range of technology to deliver a month-long programme of six sector briefings, 15 live ‘career bites’ seminars, nine new online courses, and seven ‘tiny bites’ videos introducing students and graduates to various aspects of the careers service or areas of the website to support their career planning. A VLE (Blackboard Collaborate) was used to run synchronous online careers sessions for students and graduates from all the university’s academic schools.
During the first month of the new programme, a total of 21 employers contributed to online sector briefings, outlining the state of the job market in their field. Employers also offered expertise for general sessions on topics such as resilience. The generous support and input from the 21 professional partners, representing a wide range of sectors, has been invaluable to the new skills award programme.
The shorter asynchronous online mini courses covered all the basics of career planning including building a LinkedIn profile, completing CVs and applications, postgraduate study, finding vacancies, preparing for interviews, and resilience.The technology enabled these topics to be presented in a new, professional and engaging format.
The points based system and flexible range of activity types and topics, combining synchronous and asynchronous delivery, led to high engagement levels, positive impact for participants and new opportunities for employer partners and alumni to contribute and connect with student and graduate talent.
Over 1,160 students and graduates attended online seminars over the first month of the programme, and nearly 2,000 undertook one or more of the mini courses on offer.
Aside from the more obvious benefits of 24/7 availability and increased student engagement, online delivery and the use of new technology has:
- enabled new and more comprehensive reach to our student and graduate community
- upskilled students/graduates in unprecedented times
- led to new and productive connections with employers and academic staff
- facilitated and increased global connectivity
Building on this success, the award programme has evolved and expanded, and is now embedded as a core component of employability development provision at key times of the year.
Students and graduates have benefitted in a range of ways from participating.
Accountancy and Finance student Ahmed Kombar said of the course: "I developed the confidence and self-awareness that are necessary to approach the job market during these challenging times.”
And Shannon Stevenson, Community Music student, said: “I gained a deeper understanding of myself, further developed my CV and application form writing skills, discovered resources to help decide my future, and found motivation to not give up."