employability, transitions, higher education, competence
The main focus of the comparative group work is the development of employability of young adults at higher education level. The stress on graduates’ employability is an important challenge for universities to support graduates’ transitions towards the labour market, especially in countries with high level of youth unemployment rates. The framework of the group work is the concept of employability and its main definitions (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2014; Yorke, 2006), according to its influence on higher education policies and practices. In the context of knowledge economies and high-skilled labour demand, employability acts as an educational process that support the transition from university to work. In this sense, the topic directly involves adult education studies for its impact on career pathways and on the development of life plan.
Starting from the theoretical point of view, and its implication into current national and international policies, students will develop the study of employability at macro level (international and national policies and laws) and meso level (strategies and measures implemented by universities in the home country). The employability agenda of main institutions (OECD, European Commission, National Ministries) through documents and recommendations impacts directly on higher education offer; on the other side, at the university level, many programmes have been implemented to support employability (i.e. changes to the curriculum, career service offices, placement activities, partnerships with companies, link between employability and quality assurance measures).
In a cooperative learning setup, Master’s and PhD students will join a discussion group focused on this theme, and they will acquire collective problem solving, team building, relationship and communication skills by striving for a common goal. Moreover, they will be highly involved in a very valuable, engaging and productive learning experience. The coordinator will promote and increase the level of efficiency of the group work.
Comparative research question:
- What is the institutional framework of employability (policies and laws) that influences strategies in higher education in your country?
- What is the relationship between the theoretical dimension of employability (i.e. employment-centred or
competence-centred definitions) and policies at national level?
- According to national level, what are the main documents that outline the employability agenda in higher
- What kind of educational actions (i.e. guidance, job placement or career service) have been implemented at your home university? What kind of specific programmes have been implemented to support young adults’ preparing for future career?
- What are specific programmes implemented at university level to support young adults’ employability? Are there employability-related measures according to the curriculum (i.e. specific modules) or relating to the
services offered by your university?
- What is the impact of these educational activities on the development of young adults’ employability?
Context of comparison
The comparison will deal with the educational policies and strategies that are developed at a global and national level to foster the employability of young people. These will be studied with a pedagogical perspective and students will be asked to answer some questions in order to understand if the comparison is possible.
At the same time the comparative group will focus the attention on the programmes and activities that universities implement to bolster the development of employability and the transition towards the labour market.
Categories of comparison (selection for the transnational essay is based on participants research interests)
- The definition of employability (i.e. employment centred or competence centred) will be considered a category since it influences the institutional approach at macro and meso level.
- Transitions from higher education to the labour market will be considered a category since they are very important from a pedagogical point of view for the study of the dynamic processes towards adulthood and the design and management of educational actions.
- Policies and strategies for employability at international and national level will be considered a category of analysis for the implementation of measures at higher education level.
- Practices and actions at university level will be considered a category to analyse the measures for supporting students’ and graduates’ employability.
Boffo, V. (2015). ‘Employability for the Social Economy: the Role of Higher Education’. In Boffo, V., Federighi, P., Torlone, F. (2015). Educational Jobs: Youth and Employability in the Social Economy. Firenze: Firenze University Press, pp. 147-168;
Boffo, V., Fedeli, M., Melacarne, C., Lo Presti, F., Vianello, M. (2018), Teaching and Learning for Employability. New Strategies in Higher Education, Milan-Turin: Pearson.
European Commission/EACEA/ Eurydice, (2012). The European Higher Education Area in 2012: Bologna Process Implementation Report. Brussels: EACEA;
European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, (2014). Modernisation of Higher Education in Europe: Access, Retention and Employability 2014. Eurydice Report. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Harvey, L., (2003), Transitions from higher education to work, A briefing paper, York: The Higher Education Academy.
Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S., Lawton, R., (2012), Pedagogy for Employability. York: ESECT and HEA.
Sumanasiri, E.G.T., Yajid, M.S.A., Khatibi, A., (2015), ‘Review of Literature on Graduate Employability’, in Journal of Studies in Education, Vol. 5, N° 3, pp. 75-88.
Yorke, M., Knight, P. (2006), Embedding Employability into the Curriculum. Heslington: The Higher Education Academy;
Yorke, M. (2006). Employability and Higher Education. What it is - What it is not. Heslington: The Higher Education Academy
Prof. Vanna Boffo, earned her PhD at the Florence University Department of Education and Cultural and Training Processes (21/02/2003); Vanna Boffo is associate Professor at the Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence and received her habilitation to Full Professor in 2015. She is the President of the European Master in Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Florence where she teaches Educational Research Methodology and General Pedagogy. She is also Rector’s Delegate for Job Placement, member of the Scientific Board of Directors of RUIAP, the Italian Network for University and Higher education, affiliated to EUCEN, and stakeholder of the EPALE Italian Network.
Carlo Terzaroli currently is a PhD student at the University of Florence. His research interests involve adult education and Service models in higher education.
Babalola Adejoke Clara (Ph.D) is a lecturer in the Department of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Osun State, Nigeria. Dr. Babalola earned her Ph.D in Adult Education and Master of Art in Adult Education from Obafemi Awolowo University, and Bachelor of Arts in Adult Education/ Administration from University of Nigeria Nsukka. Her research area covers adult learning, community development, sociology of adult education especially as it relates to women’s issues and rights, access to education and other critical resources, as well as the forms and consequences of women’s resistance to patriarchal cultural practices in Nigeria.