A framework for graduate employability adapted for discipline differences

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

A substantial body of work exists on the definition of graduate employability and a number of frameworks identify lists of knowledge, skills and attributes that graduates should attain. However, substantial gaps still exist between the expectations of employers, graduates, students and staff about what, when and where requisite student learning should take place. In addition, very little research has been published about discipline differences in graduate employability.

The study reported in this paper was part of a large federally funded project on graduate employability. It explored the perspectives of stakeholders from multiple disciplines on graduate employability to identify areas of consensus, misalignment and opportunities for collaboration. The main issue presented here is adequacy of current employability frameworks in an Australian context.

Data were collected through a series of focus groups and interviews and analysed on themes drawn from an existing employability framework. Stakeholders were asked about their expectations, any perceived gaps and existing challenges. The adequacy of the employability framework was then assessed against the student and employer perceptions of employability and differences between disciplines.
Employability frameworks vary in organisation, theoretical underpinning and level of detail. The CareerEDGE framework was found to have a good fit with Australian employer views on graduate employability. Participants identified some general and discipline-specific issues/concepts outside this framework, but additional descriptors can easily be added to it. The framework is also easily updated as the conceptions of employability evolve. A further improvement to the framework would be addition of level of sophistication of student understanding.

Keywords: Graduate employability, employability framework, discipline differences