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3.3 Supporting employability 

Future employability is a key issue influencing decisions of prospective students and their families and universities are similarly concerned with ensuring that their graduates develop the skills they need in the world of work. Employers are increasingly looking for graduates who exhibit a high degree of digital literacies and the ability to demonstrate the capacity for effective use of the tools of the day is an important part of this:

     “In relation to technology use it appears that the whole area of digital literacies and supporting learners to develop and maintain their virtual identities is of far greater value to employers than training students to use specific tools. The concept of ‘digital influence’ is becoming of increasing importance in differentiating between potential employees. People who can make use of online tools to demonstrate their knowledge and skills and who can leverage social media to gain recognition as innovators, thought-leaders and influencers are highly employable.” (Ferrell 2013)

It is important that the design of the curriculum, and assessment practice, allows students to undertake learning in ways that simulate authentic, work-related tasks and the use of social media tools for exchanging ideas, peer reviewing and collaborating can help with this.

The AHRC Social Media Knowledge Exchange (SMKE):
is a collaborative project that aims to give postgraduate students and early career researchers in the Arts and Humanities opportunities for knowledge exchange with social media practitioners in academia, museums, archives, libraries, and the voluntary sector. The site includes collaborative research on areas as diverse as public archaeology and assessing the credibility of reports of alleged human rights violations via social media.

The University of West London: found that, although its students made extensive use of social networks for careers information, they did not fully appreciate the value of social media in developing their own networks of professional contacts or presenting themselves in a way that would benefit their future employment prospects (despite the fact that the research also showed that employers were using social networks for recruitment purposes). The Centre for Employability and Employer Engagement therefore, through a combination of workshops and employer input, introduced a programme to help students make best use of social media in order to create better professional profiles on social networks.

Additional resources

  • Princeton University has some good advice for students on its Careers Service website about how to use social media to build networks that will be useful to them in their professional lives and about protecting reputation and creating a personal brand.

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