Offering work placements and skills training as part of linguistics and English language degrees could improve employability according to researchers from the University of the West of England.
Jeanine Treffers-Daller and Jeanette Sakel of UWE's Department of English, Linguistics and Communication are holding a workshop on 11 April 2011 aimed at sharing good practice on ways of supporting students on these courses in gaining skills that will enhance their careers.
In a report entitled Wider perspectives and more options for English Language and Linguistics students, Jeanine and Jeanette studied graduate employment from eleven UK universities, comparing each institution's overall rate of employment with the rate among linguistics and English language graduates (data used was from 2007/8).
Jeanine said, "The differences in graduate employment rates between linguistics graduates and all graduates were small and often negligible. In fact at some universities, the employment figures for linguistics graduates were more positive than for others from the same university.
"During our research, most students and graduates questioned welcomed the suggestion to include a placement or practical applications into an English language or linguistics degree."
The report recommended that those responsible for delivering degrees in English Language and Linguistics should raise awareness of the key skills students acquire when studying particular modules; include an optional credit-bearing placement into the curriculum, in which students apply their knowledge and skills in real life, and integrate sessions on employability and career options into the curriculum from the first year, to encourage students to consider their career options at an early stage.
Jeanine said, "In our report we point out that the Higher Education experience can and should
never be exclusively about employability. As is clearly explained in the British Academy report (2004), an education in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences enhances the lives of individuals and assists the formation of critical minds to bear on a wide range of crucial issues, resulting in a flourishing public culture, committed to respect for knowledge and intelligent debate.
"However while it is important to bear this in mind, it is crucially important for universities to take the employability agenda seriously. The majority of graduate employers found what they called "employability skills" to be more important than the specific occupations, technical or academic knowledge that graduates might have acquired.
"The importance of key skills, many of which can be gained from studying these subjects, is also highlighted in the Benchmark statements for Linguistics and English (QAA). These include abstracting and synthesising information, constructing and managing an argument, thinking and judging independently, competence in the planning and execution of essays and project work, IT skills and time-management and organisational skills."
The workshop will include speakers from UWE's Careers Service, and the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester and Central Lancashire. It is open to academics and careers staff in universities throughout the UK who are interested in finding out how placements or skills training can be embedded into their degrees and would like to hear how this is done in a variety of institutions across the UK.
The deadline for registrations is Monday 4 April 2011 - for more information visit http://www.llas.ac.uk/events/6326
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