New analysis has highlighted explicit links between employer engagement with higher education, the enhancement of teaching and learning, and students’ employability.

Analysis of the findings from 200 universities and colleges reviewed by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) since 2010 shows that engagement with employers, as part of the design and delivery of the curriculum, can be central to student employability and workforce development.

Effective engagement helps support the creation of graduates with the appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise required by local employers, says the report.

Benefits from engagement between employers and higher education providers include:

• the opportunity to gain work-relevant skills, experience and knowledge, and in some cases professional qualifications and accreditation, as part of programmes of study
• the creation of ’work-ready’ graduates for employers, equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience required for the workplace
• opportunities for developing skills within the workforce through a variety of high-quality flexible study opportunities, delivered in response to need and demand.

‘We know that employability is a massive driver for higher education students at this time, and that employers want the very best graduates they can get,’ says QAA’s Head of Engagement, Chris Taylor.

‘So it’s really important that we support both students and providers in trying to understand what is successful in this area, and how collectively we can build upon it.’

Among the report’s recommendations are suggestions to universities and colleges to:
• encourage greater participation from employers in approval, validation, review and monitoring of their provision
• create more opportunities for practitioners and professionals to provide an input into the delivery of the curriculum
• create opportunities for staff to maintain current industry knowledge and experience
• ensure that there is equality of opportunity for students to participate in work-based learning activities and placements, within and across programmes and institutions.

This week’s report is the forerunner to a primary research project being carried out by the University of Warwick and market research firm IFF on the impact of employability initiatives offered by universities and colleges to their students. The Warwick report will publish in April.

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Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications. Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learnt his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky. He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs. Fresh from the editorship of Student Times he now takes the reins at Young Academic - the premier student news portal. Connect with me on Google+

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