The articulation factor

The articulation factor

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) predicts that by 2015 nearly all universities in the UK will have developed some form of skills or employability award.

"We all know that students have plenty of experiences throughout their time at university – they might be on a sports team, or have a part-time job, or volunteer – but they become almost irrelevant without the ability to confidently articulate them to an employer."

Here at the University of Hull, we want to provide that key ingredient of articulation to our award, which some graduates don’t always develop as a skill. We are investing in our students, giving them the tools and mechanisms to become better graduates, to become distinctive graduates. The Hull Employability Awards is one such mechanism, as part of a major investment in developing a new University curriculum that explicitly emphasises skills development opportunities.

The primary focus of the Hull Employability Awards is to give students the ability to successfully articulate the skills they have developed during their time at university. Students follow a developmental programme which will typically last 1-2 years, during which time they compile a reflective ePortfolio. This process culminates in an interview to ensure that a student can articulate their skills verbally, as well as in writing.

The scheme was piloted in the academic year 2013/14 with 88 students from a range of disciplines and levels of study. Of these students, over 20% successfully completed the scheme – double the typical national average of a 10% completion rate and yet this is a percentage we strive to dramatically increase.

Whilst we’re not reinventing the wheel, we believe that the Hull Employability Awards are fundamentally unique within the national spectrum of awards schemes.

Firstly, this is a highly collaborative project involving Library and Learning Innovation, the Careers and Employability Service and the Students’ Union. This year we will be working with a number of academic departments to embed the Awards within personal supervision and personal development frameworks, which has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm.

This healthy partnership will nurture a scalable and sustainable scheme that is accessible to all students at the University of Hull. The majority of awards schemes probably have a maximum capacity of around a few hundred students. The Hull Employability Awards hope to provide opportunities for thousands of our students every year.

"We encourage innovation and creativity to switch our students on to that buzzword ‘employability’ as early as possible"

The articulation factor, however, is Hull Employability Awards’ big selling point – to staff, students, employers and the higher education community. While the Awards are recognised on the degree transcript, it is the continual reflection and articulation that is invaluable to our students and recent graduates.

We all know that students have plenty of experiences throughout their time at university – they might be on a sports team, or have a part-time job, or volunteer – but they become almost irrelevant without the ability to confidently articulate them to an employer. The Hull Employability Awards provide students with recognition, but more importantly, they ensure students utilise and access the full value of these experiences.

It is an exciting time for the Hull Employability Awards. On the brink of expansion across the entire University, we encourage innovation and creativity to switch our students on to that buzzword ‘employability’ as early as possible. Peer review, Open Badges and university-wide collaborative workshops are all on the horizon and we hope to be at the forefront of research. A year from now, our first full cohort of Awards students will be taking their first steps in the job market, paving the way for the distinctive Hull graduate.

To find out more, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter @HullAwards.

Hannah Pomfret is part of the skills team at the University of Hull. 

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