Our findings

What we’ve discovered so far.

Staff perceptions of employability

Interviews were held with 20 staff who came from the Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland, University of Canterbury and University of Otago. Participants included management, research, teaching, careers and academic development staff. Participants were from Arts, Business, Creative Industries, Mathematics, Medical and Science disciplines.

Here’s what they had to say…

What graduates need

Participants believed graduates needed the following:

  • Solid understanding of disciplinary knowledge
  • Written and verbal communication skills for the workplace
  • Teamwork skills
  • Ability to work across cultures
  • Agility, solution-seeking and problem-solving skills to work in ever-changing environments
  • Lifelong and lifewide learning skills
  • Understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi particularly if graduates work in public organisations

The challenges

Participants believed there was a general lack of understanding and awareness of employability. This had an impact on their ability to understand employability capabilities and how they could be embedded in the curriculum. Challenges were more apparent in research intensive disciplines. There appeared to be a lack of:

  • Strategic direction, guidance and support
  • Understanding and awareness of employability
  • Resourcing and staff capability

The practices

Participants drew on real-world industry experiences to make teaching more relevant to the workplace. Effective practices were founded on holistic, whole-of-programme approaches. Examples included:

  • Collaborations between departments, disciplines, industry and alumni
  • Real-world projects, problems and scenarios
  • Team-based and flipped learning
  • The ability to bridge theory with practice, this was particularly relevant to professional teaching staff

What we need

The need for clear strategic direction, guidance and support was considered necessary to support employability development in tertiary education. Teaching for employability is something that most teaching staff are not familiar with and they would need support to develop their capability. The following was considered necessary:

  • Strategic direction, guidance and support
  • Professional development for staff
  • General education courses
  • Targeted support mechanisms for Māori and Pacific learners