Mon, 06 Aug 2012 12:25:00 BST
Graduate job prospects are boosted by major careers service innovations
CAREERS experts at the University of Huddersfield are pioneering two new schemes which will help to boost the job prospects of graduates.
One of the initiatives has been developed in tandem with the University’s Students’ Union and will provide job-seeking graduates with an impressive addition to their CVs. The other scheme, which will ensure that the Careers and Employability Service makes the best use of its resources, has already earned praise from within the profession.
It was the Huddersfield Students’ Union who initially developed STARS, or Student Training and Recognition Scheme. The scheme aims to ensure that students who are actively involved with the SU are trained and supported to be as effective as possible in their roles, while at the same time providing opportunities for students who are not currently involved in the Students’ Union to get involved. The scheme also provides a structured method for students to record and reflect on their experiences, enhancing their CV and future employment prospects, and gaining a graded accreditation awarded jointly by the University and Students’ Union.
The Careers and Employability Service at the University was impressed by STARS and offered to collaborate.
Its head, Stephen Boyd, (pictured right) said that STARS was an opportunity for all students to develop and demonstrate their employability and it offered a tangible achievement that would ultimately enhance a CV.
“The Students’ Union wants to provide something for the people who engage with them and provide recognition for their involvement, while we are looking at it from an employability perspective,” said Mr Boyd.
“We found out about each other’s thoughts and decided that our two aims were close enough to explore the possibility of doing something collaborative,” he added. “We have ended up with something that draws upon the best aspects of what Careers Service has to offer and what the SU offers. It is a wonderful collaboration that we are really proud of.”
John Goodwin, who has developed the programme for the Students’ Union over the last few years, welcomes the input of the Careers Service. “The STARS programme has developed very quickly over the last few years and we realized that we’d reached a point where a collaborative approach was necessary to allow growth of the programme and maintain quality. The expertise that the Careers Service can offer, along with the partnerships they already have with local companies, are valuable assets to ensure that STARS fulfils its goal of giving students the opportunity to enhance their future employability,” said Mr Goodwin.
Over 450 students enrolled on the STARS programme last year, with 51 submitting their portfolios for assessment. They are provided with an on-line log that enables them to analyse their experiences – whether in a voluntary role with the SU, holding down a part-time job or taking part in organised activity – and to reflect on how they have developed and enhanced their skills as a result.
At the end of the process, if requirements are satisfied, the student receives a STARS award. This year a total of 34 awards were given, with three students achieving the top ‘Gold’ Award.
Also new at the University of Huddersfield is a Career Health Check, a brand new idea that the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services is already holding up as an example of good, innovative practice – see http://www.agcas.org.uk/articles/544-Huddersfield-tests-students-careers-confidence.
Working with the University’s computer experts, the Careers Service has devised a set of questions that students will be asked to answer online before they begin their course and then for each year during their studies.
As a result, the Careers Service will be furnished with data that will prove invaluable. So far 904 pre-enrolment students have already completed the Career Health Check.
“It will allow us to identify particular patterns,” says Stephen Boyd. “It may be that we identify areas where we need to dedicate extra careers resources, or certain courses or departments that we might want to explore working more closely with. And for the first time, it will give us an idea of how confident our students are in terms of their future plans.”
The Careers Service will not receive information about individual students, stressed Mr Boyd.
“We will get data from course level upwards so will be able to identify areas that will enable us to use our resources more effectively.”