Adapting Employability Services to Skills Development
When it comes to student employability, there is a wide range of unique practices and challenges that universities encounter. Several universities develop custom student skill development programmes that tend to align with placement and rising higher in the rankings, achieving accreditations from public authorities, increasing admissions or student retention. What engages students the most, however, is when a university not only focuses on placement but also on developing skills through concrete and measurable activities.
Australian universities have been recognized for doing student employability well. According to the article, “Top 10 Universities for Graduate Employability in 2020,” the University of Sydney was ranked #4 for employer reputation, graduate employment rate, and partnerships with employers. It was also noted that “for five years running, the University of Sydney has been named as Australia’s leading university for graduate employability.” The success that the University of Sydney has found in student employability has been due to the fact that “The University of Sydney offers real-world projects for students with more than 45 leading organisations in both Australia and internationally across the industry” and because “undergraduate students are given the opportunity to work on projects with industry partners such as Accenture, Adobe, Ernst and Young, [and] Herbert Smith Freehills.” Student skill programmes and having the technological platform to track and manage these programmes are key to providing successful student employability.
Unfortunately, there are universities that struggle with technical and functional challenges when aligning their edtech platforms to the student or employer engagement services they offer. These challenges also affect internship management. The root of the issue is that many of these universities sign up for a “one size fits all” type of solution, such as standardized job boards or off-the-shelf event management systems that don’t easily integrate between them and are almost never configurable. Furthermore, from the job placement perspective, these solutions tend to be designed to push the higher education institution out of the employability equation, bringing the students directly to the employers. While this may sound ideal to some, one has to think: What is the role of the higher education institution in terms of employability overall?
Higher education institutions must strive to answer this question because it can serve as the answer to increasing student enrollment and student retention. Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist best known for his hierarchy of needs, once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer… treat everything as if it were a nail.” With student employability, however, the solution for one university may not be the solution for another. Each university has a unique set of needs and every university needs a platform that can be customized to match the needs of their student population.
CSM Enterprise, Symplicity’s employability solution, offers a certain set of features that allow universities to set up, measure and promote custom skill development initiatives to students. CSM Pathways provides a capability only found in CSM that allows the creation of structures steps and activities that students need to complete over time. These can be related to other activities in the solution or activities in other solutions such as the Learning Management System. Student feedback suggests that students enjoy this feature the most as it provides a gamified experience showing them their progress and the next steps they need to take.
In addition to Pathways, CSM also offers the possibility of configuring student and employer-facing user forms. Universities can add the fields they want on these forms, use them for searches, and pull reports with them. Strong custom reporting and visualization capabilities are core to data-driven decision making. Apart from being able to pull out custom reports, CSM allows the creation of custom automated dashboards, bringing the management team the insights they are looking for instantly and in a user-friendly format.
Students require access to jobs and events, but they also require access to services that are adapted to their needs and experiences and allow for institutions to monitor and measure their progress over time in order to identify potential areas where there could be a need for intervention. Although there are several other platforms out there, CSM is the most scalable and configurable product in the market.