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Addressing perceptions of ‘employability’ within a healthcare programme at Cardiff University

Williamson, Keren 2014. Addressing perceptions of ‘employability’ within a healthcare programme at Cardiff University. PDP Newsletter 4 (4) , p. 6.

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Introduction As educators, we reflect on our teaching almost as ‘second nature’ but occasionally something happens that stops us in our tracks and makes us consider whether we may have ‘missed’ something important. Such was the case recently when I heard that some of my final year students had been unsuccessful in gaining employment within local hospitals. This made me consider what the successful applicants offered that my students had not and what was it that made the successful applicants more employable. This caused me to reflect on ‘employability’, old school ‘transferable skills’ perhaps but certainly the modern ‘buzz word’ and definitely on the radar for higher education within Wales. But what exactly is it? Is it sneakily and cleverly embedded within our radiography programmes or is it simply presumed to be there, perhaps within clinical education? Clearly if it was in there somewhere, it seemed to be hidden from those radiography services managers who selected new graduates for employment. This raised even more questions - what exactly are they looking for? I currently lead a final year Healthcare Management module within the diagnostic radiography and radiotherapy programmes at Cardiff University which aims to prepare new graduate radiographers for professional practice; however, I began to reflect on whether I should be paying more attention to helping students understand and demonstrate the skills they need in order to become ‘employable’. To understand ‘employability’ from the perspectives of key stakeholders, I designed a project that surveyed managers from various Local Health Boards and explored the students’ own perceptions of employability. As well as addressing these stakeholders’ needs and expectations, Skills Development Having identified the ‘Top 5’ attributes of employability that service managers looked for in new graduates, opportunities were offered for students to engage with skills training sessions run by the Students’ Union Skills Development Service. These sessions were: • Preparation for presentations o Building confidence in presenting self • Team working o Understanding team roles and responsibilities • Organisational skills and time management o Prioritising, record keeping and self-motivation • Problem solving o Strategies for decision making • Dealing with difficult people o Working effectively with others, skills for negotiation Sessions were interactive and lasted for 2 hours. On completion, students were presented with a Certificate of Professional Development, signed by the Vice Chancellor and endorsed by Price Waterhouse Cooper (pwc), for inclusion within their portfolio. Outcomes Participants were asked to evaluate the sessions and for the majority, the sessions were considered to have been of value with comments such as ‘all sessions had something that you could take away with you’ and ‘It helped me to gain and improve upon skills that an employer considers to be important’ However, one recurring recommendation for improvement was that the sessions should be spread over the three years of the degree programmes rather than concentrating on skills development in the final year – ‘would be more beneficial if offered earlier - before we start applying for jobs’. And so… The skills development programme will now be offered as part of the first and final year Professional and Personal Development modules for all Allied Health programmes within the School of Healthcare Sciences at Cardiff University. In year one, students will concentrate on developing their presentation skills along with team working and dealing with difficult people. They will revisit skills development in year 3 and undertake training sessions for organisational skills and problem solving.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Publisher: The Centre for Recording Achievement
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 06:32

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