Employability in programme development (EPD): Establishing a labour market to higher education feedback loop drawing on local labour market intelligence

The Employability in Programme Development (EPD) project seeks to establish a feedback loop from the labour market to HEIs in order inform programme and course design to best support the employability of future graduates. It is funded by the European Commission from 2021-2023 under the Erasmus+ programme with a grant of €433,771. The project consortium is made up of five participating organisations. Four of these are HEIs, which provide complementary academic and administrative expertise drawn from four distinct higher education systems: England (University of Reading), Scotland (University of Glasgow), Spain (Autonomous University of Barcelona) and Belgium (Brussels Free University). We also collaborate with the Catalan Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency (AQU), which brings to the consortium expertise in graduate outcome surveys and access to institutional networks across Europe.

Informed by the needs of stakeholders, the project consortium will map the availability of information on skills demand in the context of each participating institution as well as the needs of practitioners in participating HEIs for labour market intelligence to inform their course and programme design. This in turn will be used to design and develop a prototype labour market intelligence dashboard for use by staff in HEIs. To augment secondary data sources made accessible through the dashboard, additional input on skills demand will be sought from employers. The project will also curate best practice in employability from across Europe and publish in a series of case studies.

The project is a response to a policy context, where mismatch between the skills of graduates and those demanded by employers is widely regarded as a source of disappointing graduate outcomes such as unemployment, underemployment and systemic inequalities. Compounded by economic shocks, the issue of graduate employment outcomes has become a policy priority. However, the situation is likely to worsen as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Despite being less susceptible to the disease itself, young people are likely to be negatively affected by the economic impact given their precarious employment situation as the “first-out and last-in” group of the labour market – a dynamic that becomes even more pronounced during economic downturns as revealed following the 2008 financial crisis.

A wide range of information sources has emerged to inform the skills needs of local labour markets. Moreover, the European Education Area encourages collaboration on data collection in a harmonised and comparable way. However, practitioners in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that are tasked with developing courses and programmes are not experts in labour market intelligence and are unlikely to utilise it to support the development of graduate employability attributes through their teaching. Moreover, even when they do it is unclear whether available labour market intelligence is suitable to inform course and programme development in higher education.

 

PI: Kristinn Hermannsson, School of Education, University of Glasgow

The following are Co-Is

Dickon Copsey, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow

Emma Smith, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow

Simonetta Longhi, Department of Economics, University of Reading

Sarah Jewell, Department of Economics, University of Reading

Johan Loekx, Artificial Intelligence Lab, Free University of Brussels

Rosario Scandurra, Department of Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Xavier Ramble, Department of Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona

Anna Prades Nebot, Internationalisation and Knowledge Generation Department, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in Catalonia

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