Enabling Learners to Establish Meaningful Professional Identity

Nikki Meller
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The concept of employability, as an approach encompassing more than just technical skills and experience, and distinct from academic performance. Providing resources with specific job readiness and self-directed employability assistance to learners can encourage establishing a sense of professional identity and define a structured transition to professional practice.

Why is employability important?

The conceptualisation of employability is relevant to both current and future workforce, it needs to be realistic, strength and values based focusing on graduates being able to “the ability to find, create and sustain meaningful work across the career lifespan” (Bennett, 2018). Graduate employability is addressed as only part of core curriculum and it requires more than that. It requires integration of employability needs as institutional action enabling students to establish professional identity in a complex labour market (Bennett & Bridgstock, 2015; Challice, 2018).

Targeted, student-focused employability elements, with clear messages designed to signpost advice and mentoring can align initiatives with student aspirations, thereby providing students with resources for identity adaptation to employable graduates (Smith, et al., 2017).

How can you prioritise the concept of employability for learners?

Job Readiness programs should focus on knowing what’s involved in the employment process, preparing students with access to online workshops and skills sessions e.g., industry-specific CV writing, answering industry-specific selection criteria, additional to an invitation to industry employment sessions. Consistent communication is key to student engagement.

Then you should be embedding employability skills and job readiness techniques into teaching and learning content. Learners will then be continually supported in their preparation for graduate employment including interviews with industry facilitated workshops, in-class values-based initiatives (aligned with course learning outcomes) and self and group student reflection exercises. Hosting external partner information sessions for students specifically focussing on industry-specific interview techniques and preparation gives learners the opportunity and support to be as prepared as they can be for graduate employment.

Learners appreciate seeing the value their educational experiences offer them. Promoting career identity, personal adaptability, social networking and professional skills, creates opportunities for learners to establish a meaningful professional identity. Providing employability resource programs, promotes industry partnership, values based learning, increased learner engagement and establishes capacity and capability building of our future workforce.

A bespoke Job Readiness program* for nursing students in higher education was established by Nikki Meller, Director of CREDuED, whilst at Western Sydney University. In 2022, Nikki was awarded an Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) citation for development of curricula, resources or services that reflect a command of the field, specifically related to the Job Readiness program she designed and developed.

The Job Readiness Program has been shared on the National Innovative Research Universities case study repository, developed to showcase innovative practices that support student and graduate success and provide a mechanism through which to encourage cross-sector collaboration. If you are interested to know more about how you can also design and prioritise the concept of employability for learners, please contact info@credued.com