Employment & employability are two terms that are often misinterpreted. While both these terms are interdependent, they are also equally important for a student of higher education.
Employability is the right mix of knowledge, skills, social & personal attitude. In all, it is a measure of how easily & quickly new graduates can be hired by companies based on their proficiency. Employment, on the other hand, refers to the state of being employed or having a job.
Today, the job market is intensively competitive. Employers are on a lookout for adept candidates who are industry-ready. Thus, producing employable graduates becomes colleges/universities’ responsibility and integral part of education.
Here are some reasons why making students employment-ready is a pressing need for colleges/universities.
Employer demands - Knowledge with hands-on experience
Excellence in the subject-domain is only a part of the 2020 workplace demand.
As a case in point, the UK government is urging students to look at their learning, both academic & non-academic, as an investment that will give them direct benefits in the labour market.
Experiential learning opportunities like internships, on-ground projects, mindful involvement in faculty research, cooperative education programs, etc., are ways of introducing students to real-life situations and are essential to make students employable. Employers need people who can fit into their expectation of the roles; they want deft employees who are eager to move into the next rung of the career ladder. Companies invest in training and development programs & workshops which can primarily benefit their entity and in that context, along with the potential of the candidate, the experience and exposure are given equal importance.
Assurance of quality
“Employability is considered an institutional achievement rather than quantification of the number of students who get employed.” From an institution’s standpoint, employability is looked upon by the stakeholders of higher education as an assurance of quality. Further, quality is defined as ‘fitness for purpose’. Making the students fit for the purpose of employment is the primary duty of higher education. Employability is the direct reflection of the quality of education, and in turn, represents the values of the organization in creating a fulfilling career for its students.
Developed countries, for instance, the Bologna declaration (2013) in Europe, explicitly emphasized employability as a fundamental goal for higher education systems.
Gallup-Purdue Index, a higher education outcome measurement company in the US, observed in 2016 that for new under-grads, employability and employment of an institution represent a critical factor in their decision to enrol.
Offers freedom of choice to students
Employable attributes offer the freedom of choice owing to the readiness of the person to take on any job with confidence. It provides an opportunity to develop skills and experience, making an individual fit for a variety of roles and reduces the dependency on any particular job/employer. A degree is no longer enough to secure a job. The other abilities that employers check for include, agility, adaptability, self-management, critical thinking, soft skills, team working abilities, social responsibility, etc.
Curriculum at the higher education level needs to be designed keeping in mind the industry demands. Career involves many different roles and employers; even if the job remains the same, it is likely to change its nature over time. By making students employable, educational institutions are making them ready not just for their first job, but for a lifetime of engaging employment and adapting to the rapidly changing workforce of the 21st century.
Everything boils down to a satisfying career. Preparing learners for employment is an expected outcome of higher education institutes. If not assure employment, every institution must enhance a student’s employability. QS I∙GAUGE considers employability a primary rating parameter while rating institutions.