McKinna, A. and Brooks, Ruth (2010) Learning Spaces for Enhancing Employability Skills using the Blackboard VLE. In: ASET Annual Conference 2010, 7-9 September 2010, University of Leicester. (Unpublished)

This paper describes a pilot project at the UoH to develop and enhance personal development planning (pdp) and employability skills amongst final year undergraduates on a BA Business Management degree. Developed in conjunction with students, the Careers and Employability service and Academic Skills, a Personal Development and Employability Workbook has been generated and student learning from this tool embedded through the creation of an e-portfolio in the campus-wide Blackboard VLE system. In addition to this package of employability skills, a psychometric test and careers advice have been added to assist students in career planning. The package has maintained a simple approach to support student engagement.

The literature around employability skills in the higher education sector is vast with many examples of best practice. The work described here builds on the approaches first laid down by Knight & Yorke (2002), Yorke (2005) and Brown & Drew (2005)

The purpose of the project was to enhance current PDP schemes that focused upon employability as well as ensuring strong academic progress in the final year. By integrating Academic Skills delivered through specialist advisors, the Careers service and final year academic and personal tutors the project brings together the range of support mechanisms available. Students stressed the need for tools that took a simple but effective approach to help organise their career routes. Student Focus Groups were established and Training Sessions have begun. Awareness raising among academic staff is an on-going activity through Teaching and Learning seminars.

At the outset of this project a series of objectives were agreed:

• A review of final year PDP practice across internal and external programmes:
• An integrated PDP resource to use with students to include personal analysis, careers analysis, psychometric/ aptitude testing, job application and interview techniques, guest speakers from employers and past graduates and progress files:
• An initial qualitative evaluation of participation rates and effectiveness:.
• Quantitative assessment via degree classification and destinations statistics

The quantitative assessment remains to be completed. All other objectives have been achieved

An innovative approach has been taken in order to engage students working in conjunction with the Careers and Employability Service. An initial evaluation of the tool has demonstrated that there has been an increased attendance at Careers sessions

The aim of presenting this project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of integrating all aspects of final year support to ensure academic progress as well as structured first step career planning. The integrated learning tools will be demonstrated through the e-portfolio and discussion generated through workshop activity as to how the project could be further developed, potentially working back through the earlier years of the course which includes a placement.


Brown, S & Drew, S (2005) Developing an Employability Framework: an Institutional Approach. ESECT Conference, Enhancing Student Employability, Birmingham

Knight, P & Yorke, M (2002) Employability through the Curriculum
Tertiary Education & Management Dec 2002, 8 (4) 261-276

Yorke, M (2005) Employability in Higher Education: What it is – and what it is not.
York. Higher Education Academy

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