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Supporting Employability and Career Development for Humanities & Social Science Students: Case Studies from across the Coimbra Group

28 January 2019

A new resource has been developed by the Employability Working Group and is available on the Coimbra Group website.

The genesis for the resources was conversation with the Humanities and Social Science colleagues at the Annual Coimbra Group meeting in Edinburgh, after which members of the Employability Working Group were drawn to three common factors:

  • shared concern about the ease of transition to the graduate labour market for our humanities and social science students
  • we were all developing creative ways to support these students and graduates
  • academic/faculty colleagues were often unaware of the services and support available.

This led to a publication which sets some of the context for HE careers support and shares a collection of case studies of practice from 11 member universities: a useful means to exchange professional practice and to inform academic colleagues of the support available.

Coimbra Group members operate in a global education environment which is ever more competitive and in which those funding our students are increasingly concerned about the evidence of impact and return on investment. The benefits of a degree in the humanities and social sciences (HSS) are sometimes questioned:  yet the study of humanities and social science subjects can prepare graduates for the global economy and a working life in which people will increasingly move between careers, employers and sectors.

At the heart of the challenge is preparing graduates for the multiplicity of career options on offer, many of which may not yet exist, and ensuring their ongoing success as our alumni in a dynamic labour market.  Careers Services work to build autonomy and self-sufficiency in our students, enabling them to continue planning and managing their career beyond the initial transition from University.  This is addressed in a variety of ways: from delivery in the curriculum, large and small scale events such as careers fairs and workshops, to one-one support and online resources.

In producing this report careers and employability leaders from across member universities identified important messages for our students and academic stakeholders:

  • skills and attributes developed by HSS students are relevant to many career areas, students benefit from these being made explicit during their studies
  • career planning is a developmental process, therefore early engagement with career and careers services is encouraged
  • supporting students’ career development is a collaborative venture – academic and faculty staff can be supported in this by their professional career service colleagues, e.g. engaging with employers, modifying content, providing complementary activities
  • the employability agenda is likely to increase in importance – it needs to be a whole institution approach and non-vocational degree programmes need to respond to this creatively

CG Context and Case Studies in Support for HSS students