Higher Nationals How to integrate employability into course delivery: Bath College Case Study
How to integrate employability into course delivery: Bath College Case Study
Student employability is an integral focus for the development of BTEC Higher National qualifications. We make sure that stakeholders from industry are involved in the design and validation of the programmes, ensuring colleges are producing graduates who have the necessary knowledge and confidence to join the workforce.
Employers, professional bodies and independent experts play a significant role in the design and development of the qualifications. These advisory groups contribute the content and help define outcomes, therefore supporting the development of their workforce and addressing any skills gaps.
These activities are the foundation blocks of our BTEC Higher National qualifications. When delivering the qualifications, centres are encouraged to build on the specification by supplementing course delivery with various employability activities. One centre that is doing this really well is Bath College.
Awarded TEF Silver award in 2018, Bath College especially focuses on employment and employability skills. Their efforts were recognised in their TEF award for significant evidence of ‘employer participation in curriculum design and development to ensure that students are equipped with skills valued highly by employers.’
How do they integrate employability?
Staff at Bath College decided to make the most out of employer engagement and include local employers in both course design and delivery. Here are some of the activities Bath College include in their curriculum.
Bath College used live briefs, set by employers, to give students a real project to work towards. One such project was a brief set by Radstock Museum to create a virtual reality ride into the mines of the Somerset Coalfields, where Applied Computing students used industry-recognised software to deliver the project.
Not only did the students learn new tools and gained skills they can take straight into employment, but the achievement adds to their employability record as the project is now being used as a central attraction by the Museum.
Bath College came up with a creative idea to fill vacancies for level 4 and 5 lecturers in Construction and the Built Environment. The College developed a partnership with a locally-based consultancy for the construction sector, resulting in professionals from the firm delivering specialist elements of the qualification.
The solution is a great way to bring in relevant and up-to-date knowledge into the classroom and also allows current staff to learn from their industry colleagues.
At Bath College, HND Business students develop a start-up idea as part of their studies. The College brings local employers to help students achieve this task.
In one case two coffee houses in Bath supported one of the students to start up a coffee house of their own. This particular student was also mentored by the marketing manager from another company to broaden his business strategy to greater market appeal.
Another way to develop students employability skills and opportunities was to turn them into volunteering consultants for local charities. In this instance students were able to share their knowledge with the charities, giving feedback and suggestions on their work.
Some other ideas you might want to consider
There are a variety of ways you can integrate employability activities into your programme delivery and each centre may focus on different ways to achieve this. You should consider a range of options, depending on what’s available to you and what would work for your learners.
Examples could include:
- field trips to local businesses
- inviting members of the local membership organisations centre to present guest lectures
- using employers to judge the quality of assessed presentations and/or products
- (for the more entrepreneurial) establishing a panel of experts who students can pitch an idea to.
Why integrate employability activities?
As discussions surrounding the value of education continue, it is important that we show prospective students the benefit of programmes where theory and practice elements of delivery are integrated.
Bringing students and employers together has benefits for both parties, too. Students can learn first hand what it means working in their chosen profession, as well as what professional life requires from them. While employers can give back and nurture the next generation of workers.
Centres also benefit by delivering qualifications in this way. For Bath College, employability was one of the major reasons resulting in the TEF Silver award in 2018. Other benefits can include:
- raising awareness amongst employers of the new talent being developed at your organisation
- developing vocational skills of your learners, especially HNC and HND students
- better center recognition amongst potential students and the community.
The case study was based on an article published in FE News and edited in collaboration with Simon Bracken, Higher Education Manager at Bath College.