Employability programmes: Getting the best outcomes for learners

Employability programmes are seen as being to improve those basic generic skills that employers are looking for, and which are likely to help the person secure initial employment and maintain ongoing employment. Sometimes employability programmes supplement these generic skills with access to more vocationally-specific training and awareness. Sometimes there is heavier emphasis on the practicalities of sorting out a way forward for each participant, or dealing more substantially with underlying issues of attitudes and motivations.

There are a range of people for whom employability is seen as a key learning need. Whilst employability courses are often thought of as being for young people disengaged from regular routes to employment, this is not always the case. There are also young people who are motivated, and on track, but simply lack some simple skills or knowledge relating to the world of work. An employability group may contain a variety of people. Programmes may thus need to be flexible enough to be able to meet a range of needs.

This article outlines the features of successful employability programmes.

Similarly, although the target group is often low-skill/low-qualified young people, there are many employers who see university graduates as being unprepared for the realities of the world of work and in need of employability awareness before they can be recruited as effective workers.

Employability training is also increasingly being built into secondary school programmes of study and, in more general ways, into work with primary-age children. At the other end of the age-scale, there are adults being displaced, after years in one job, and who find themselves needing some employability updating in a rapidly changing job market.

The bulk of employability support is – however – still done with 16-25 year olds, with few/no qualifications, who may have disengaged from study/work, and who may have a range of social/emotional/behavioural/core skills issues.

In designing any programme it is important to consider a number of drivers:

  • The nature of the participants
  • The local jobs context; and what employers need
  • The purposes of the learning programme
  • The extent to which there is set content to be taught or changes in attitude to be supported
  • The nature/timing of any accreditation; how success gets recorded
  • The extent to which the provider organisation has the capacity to be flexible
  • Any staffing/funding implications

Any employability programme is likely to need to address a well-known set of core content topics. these are outlined in the full article. A range of factors will affect the ways that individual needs are able to be met through effective programme design.

It is hoped that this article helps readers think through some of the common issues associated with developing employability.

Read more here: Employability programmes

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