Improving Graduateness and Employability: A Career Management Approach

Kethamonie Naidoo, Council on Higher Education, South Africa


Universities are under increasing pressure to produce the kind of graduates that employers want and employers often report that graduates do not possess the desired attributes for employment (Glover 2002: 293; Parker & Griesel, 2009; Chetty, 2012; Keeling & Hersh, 2012). Universities are exploring different options to make graduates more “work ready” for a wider variety of work contexts. The challenge for universities is to systematically plan to improve graduateness in a pedagogically sound way within the curriculum. This paper draws on the view of Bridgstock (2009) who explains that in a rapidly changing knowledge intensive and technologically advancing economy, students require more than a set of graduate attributes that are desirable to employers in the immediate future. The focus should instead be on developing in graduates the attributes that would best serve them, employers and society for the longer term and be relevant for future decades. Bridgstock (2009:32) identifies self-management and career management skills as necessary graduate attributes that would allow graduates to “proactively navigate the world of work and self-manage the career building process” regardless of the dynamically changing and unpredictable work contexts. The key concepts, graduate attributes, graduateness, employability and career management are explained and thereafter, the use of a career management portfolio as a pedagogically sound, systematic and strategic approach for improving graduateness are explained. Some implications of implementing such an approach are also considered.

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