English, John and Ireland, Chris (2011) Accountants in Organisations – a module delivering impact. In: Graduates with Impact: through excellence in business education, BMAF Annual Conference, 10th - 11th May 2011, Bournemouth. (Unpublished)

Employability, a current hot topic in Higher Education, is not new as UK Government Committees have previously explored and highlighted the:-
• need for graduates to make an effective contribution to society via the nation’s workforce (Robbins Report, Committee on Higher Education, 1963) and
• the importance of education for employability and the value of key skills development and work experience in developing students’ potential for employment (Dearing Report, 1997).

This issue is not isolated to students in the UK as concerns have also long been raised about the:-
• inadequacies demonstrated by graduates when they are placed into the working environment (American Accounting Association 1986) and
• the difficulties that universities face in equipping graduates for professional practice (CPA Australia, 2002).

Greater focus is now being placed on the topic of employability in the UK as recent research has explored:-
• the significance Higher Education plays in readiness of graduate’s for the workplace (Surridge, 2008) and
• developing skills via work placements in accounting (Paisey and Paisey, 2010)

Having considered the likely impact of the predicted shortfall in Graduate Attributes of students in general a 1st year Business School module AIO has embedded both academic and vocational skills into a programme of personal and professional development, where appropriate drawing on content from other year one modules.

This process involves using a series of employability competences (Kubler and Forbes, 2006) whereby the students participate in a range of projects, self assessment exercises and e-based activities which all incorporate a process of consideration, monitoring and evaluation so that the students develop as reflective practitioners.

Based on the evidence gained the module leader and the learning development tutor are both encouraged by the numbers of students who have recognised the progress they have made in developing their own employability attributes.

The presentation will report on the following areas: -
1. the structure of the module and types of exercises included,
2. student engagement illustrated by their progress through the module
3. consideration of the exercises which attempt to demonstrate the impact of the module on student development
4. preliminary results of where the students feel the responsibility for employability should be positioned during their journey from education to their graduate career.

This paper is at an interim stage but there is the potential that following consideration of questionnaire responses, reflections and other sources of data that it might be possible/appropriate to consider designing particularly focussed learning activities to address the specific key shortcomings that have been identified within different sub-groups of the cohort.

Evidence from students, but particularly from recent graduates in employment, supports the potential that this approach can have on graduate impact.


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