Adult Education Academy

    Group 4

    Comparative Group 4: Employability & transsition of young adult from higher education to labour market

    Employability ∙ transitions ∙ higher education ∙ skills

    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

    1. What is the institutional framework of employability (policies and laws) that influences strategies in higher education in your country?

    2. What kind of educational actions (i.e. guidance, job placement or career service) have been implemented at your home university?

    3. What are specific programmes implemented at university level to support young adults’ employability?

    4. Are there employability-related measures according to the curriculum (i.e. specific modules) or relating to the services offered by your University?

    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 to some questions in order to understand if the comparison is possible.

    At the same time the comparative group will focus the attention on the programs 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)

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. Practices and actions (i.e. guidance, job placement or career service) at university level will be considered a category to analyse the measures for supporting students’ and graduates’ employability

    Good practices

    We could focus on specific measures that could support the development of employability skills within Career Services. For example, University of Florence has developed the Entrepreneurial Training Program to improve entrepreneurial skills and to focus the research towards professional projects. It is a two-day training program aimed at fostering entrepreneurial skills through Design Thinking (Buchanan, 1992) and LEGO® Serious Play methodology (Kristiansen & Rasmussen, 2017). The focus is on the entrepreneurial attitude and on skills for project planning and management. Further programmes and activities could be compared in order to provide an overview of good practices for the development of young adults’ employability.


    Boffo, V., Fedeli, M., Melacarne, C., Lo Presti, F., Vianello, M. (2017), Teaching and Learning for Employability. New Strategies in Higher Education, Milan-Turin: Pearson.

    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.

    Yorke, M. (2006). Employability and Higher Education. What it is - What it is not. Heslington: The Higher Education Academy



    Prof. Vanna Boffo, University of Florence, Italy

    Prof. Vanna Boffo, University of Florence, Italy 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.


    Dr. Gaia Gioli, University of Florence, Italy

    Dr. Gaia Gioli, University of Florence, Italy earned her PhD at the Bergamo University Department of Education (17/03/2014); Gaia Gioli is PostDoc at the Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence since 2014.Her current research activities are concentrated in three areas: 1) Adult education, the formation in and for the workplace, the study of transitions from education to labour market; 2) higher education and the study of actions to foster the development of employability through the curricula of studies; 3) internationalization of the research.


    Co-Moderation: Carlo Terzaroli, University of Florence, Italy

    Carlo Terzaroli currently is PhD candidate at the University of Florence. His research interests involve adult education and Career Service models in higher education.