Exciting New Project Aims to Address Graduate Employability at GCU by dfsiopmhy6


									Exciting New Project Aims to Address Graduate Employability at
This is the first all staff newsletter from the Aiming University Learning @Work
Project Team at GCU.

GCU is a major partner in an innovative project: the Aiming University Learning
@Work Project. This ground-breaking project was launched as recently as February
2007 and has an overall aim of creating a strategic shift with respect to the
development of employability initiatives and work-related learning within Scottish
Universities. The project is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and involves a
partnership between 3 Scottish Universities:

   •   Glasgow Caledonian University
   •   The University of Glasgow (lead institution)
   •   The University of St Andrews

The GCU Project Team is based within the Division of Psychology and consists of:

Professor Mike Mannion is Dean of School of Engineering & Computing and the
grant-holder for the project. He also represents GCU on the Scottish HE
Employability Network (SHEEN)

Ms Nuala Toman, who is responsible for taking forward the project at GCU and
undertaking a longitudinal study examining the university to work transitions of
graduates from the partner institutions; and a scoping study of employability and
work-related learning within GCU and beyond with a view to identifying factors
which facilitate or hinder such developments.
Nuala can be contacted on extension 1345 or by emailing employability@gcal.ac.uk

Mr Mike Wrennall, who is an occupational psychologist and works on a part-time
basis, and is responsible for the further enhancement of employability within the Bsc
Hons Psychology Programme. This may include the development of new modules,
which may also be adopted in other programmes across the institution. He is keeping
a record of facilitators and obstacles in this process.
Mike can be contacted by email at M.Wrennall@gcal.ac.uk

Ms Lesley McAleavy is responsible for the development and day to day running of
the Psychology Voluntary Work and Mentoring Scheme (VWMS) which aims to give
BSc Psychology students, and others wishing to use it, the opportunity to undertake
relevant work experience within voluntary or educational organisations whilst they
are studying. Lesley also provides administrative support to the project within GCU.
Lesley can be contacted on extension 8724 or by emailing employability@gcal.ac.uk

Dr Douglas Forbes was heavily involved in setting the project up, and continues to
play a central role in guiding the overall direction and implementation of the project at
GCU. He also represents GCU on the Project Steering Group.

Ms Rachel Mulholland is an occupational psychologist and provides key support to
the research strands and leads the Level 2 Work and Psychology module.
Dr Lindsey Burns who provides key support to the research strands and to the
VWMS and leads the Level 3 Psychology Related Work Experience module.

Mr David Carse, is Democratic Services Manager of the Student Association. He
acts in an advisory capacity, sits on the Psychology Management Committee and the
Project Steering Group, and helps to ensure that the project is meeting the needs of
GCU students.

What is the Aiming University Learning @Work Project?

In Scotland today, a growing emphasis is being placed upon ways to increase graduate
employability and a growing number of students are accessing higher education in the
belief that a university course will improve their future career opportunities. The
world of work is changing and in particular, university graduates, facing increased
competition, are no longer ‘guaranteed’ a job for life. Tackling these issues and
student expectations is a particular challenge for those subject areas which do not
currently have a strong tradition of offering students opportunities for work
experience or work-related learning. To help address this, partner universities have
secured funding from the Scottish Funding Council and have established the Aiming
University Learning @ Work Project.

The project has four main strands:

   •   Exploration of current activities relating to work-related learning and
       employability within Scottish universities
   •   Examination of the views and experience of university staff, students on non-
       vocational programmes and recent graduates
   •   Exploration and development of opportunities for work experience
   •   Support and development activity aimed at embedding work-related learning
       within the university curriculum

The project will identify barriers and opportunities for enhancing student
employability and work-related learning. The potential benefits of this project are
huge. Not only is there an opportunity to increase the proportion of employable
graduates, the project will undoubtedly provide a wealth of information which should
be of relevance to students, academics and support staff across Scotland.

What’s happening at GCU? How Can I Get Involved?

Exploration and development of new modules to enhance employability
Mike Wrennall is currently working within the Psychology Division. He is exploring
and developing possible new modules with the aims of enhancing graduate
employability. It is proposed that these modules would raise students’ awareness of
employability issues by reflecting on the needs of work organisations and
mechanisms through which students can develop the characteristics, skills, knowledge
and attitudes appropriate to the type of organisations in which students wish to work.
Such activities would incorporate elements of PDP. Modules are to be designed with
maximum flexibility in relation to both stated prerequisites and credit levels.
Possible new modules could include:

Level 1: The development of a new module that would not necessarily be exclusively
targeted at psychology students. The working title for such a module could be Work
and Career Development 1. Such a module would cover a detailed analysis of the
individual in terms of personality, skills, goals, interests and career ideas, and self
development with an emphasis upon ‘Who am I? Where do I want to go? How could I
get there?’ Such a module would take account of possibly incorporating existing
developments in PDP.

Level 2: The development of a new module which could involve modifications of,
and/or amalgamations of existing psychology modules and would not necessarily be
exclusively targeted at psychology students. The working title for such a module
could be Work and Career Development 2. This would most likely develop ideas
from level 1 but would also be accessible by students who have not taken the L1
module. It would consider the needs of organisations, with the emphasis upon ‘What
do organisations want? Have I got what they want? Can I develop what they want?’ It
would include organisation recruitment processes, including consideration of what
organisations are looking for, the nature of ‘transferable skills’ and how these can be
developed, and how organisations can select and train people.

Level 3: The development of a new module based on a reflective log maintained
during an extended period of appropriate work, for example an internship or voluntary
work placement over the summer vacation. It would involve written reflection,
conforming to set criteria, by students on their experiences and what they have
learned. It would involve written reflection, conforming to set criteria by students on
their experiences and what they have learned. It could build on existing Psychology
and Work and Psychology Related Work Experience modules, and/or on experience
gained from running these. It may be supported by an element of e-learning, and
could possibly be credited at a number of levels.

Level 4: Possible modifications to one or more existing honours options on
work/organisation psychology, and incorporating PDP, students would develop a
personal portfolio which could be tailored to particular jobs or career lines. Advice
on future career development activities and interaction with the careers service would
be provided, as would careers guidance specifically looking at the needs of
psychology (or whatever discipline should this be a cross-disciplinary module)

Please contact Mike at M.Wrennall@gcal.ac.uk if you are interested in finding out
more information about these potential modules.

University to Employment Transitions: Final Year Experience Survey
On the 19 March 07 the Final Year Experience Survey went live. This is an online
survey of final year students on particular non-vocational programmes within the
partner institutions. At GCU the survey is targeted at Level 4 students on the
following programmes:

   •   Psychology
   •   Social Sciences
   •   Computing
   •   Games Software Development
   •   Internet Software Development
   •   Networking and Computer Support

If you are working with or in contact with these students we would appreciate your
support in encouraging them to participate in our study. The purpose of the survey is
to gather information which will allow us to better understand the processes involved
in making the transitions from university to employment and related factors.
Information will be collected which relates to the educational and social
characteristics of participants, their plans after graduation, engagement with career
development activity, part-time employment and voluntary activities, and perspectives
of work-related learning activity. Participation is voluntary and participants will be
asked if they are willing to participate in future interviews associated with the project.
Level 4 students from relevant programmes who participate in the survey will be
entered into a draw in which they could win £100 of vouchers. Please direct your
students to www.gcal.ac.uk/finalyearexperience

The Research Team would like to thank Jane McKellar and Ann Marie Green from
MPR for their assistance in the development and production of the survey, and
support in using Surveymonkey. We would also like to thank all staff within
Psychology, Social Sciences and Computing who have helped us to get in contact
with their students and have encouraged students to participate in the survey.

For further information about the survey please contact Nuala Toman on extension
1345 or email employability@gcal.ac.uk

Are You Involved in Employability or Work-Related Learning Activities at
The project team are undertaking a scoping study to identify employability and work-
related learning activities within GCU and beyond. To this end we are interested in
hearing from you if you are involved in any such activities. Please contact Nuala
Toman on extension 1345 or email employability@gcal.ac.uk

Voluntary Work and Mentoring Scheme (VWMS)
The Psychology Division has received funding from the Scottish Funding Council as
part of the AUL@W Project to support and further develop the Division’s Voluntary
Work and Mentoring Scheme (VWMS). The scheme acts as a facilitator for BSc
Psychology students (and others wishing to use it) to obtain relevant work experience
within voluntary and educational organisations whilst they are studying. The aim is to
allow participating students to improve their employability and postgraduate
prospects by developing key transferable skills (like interpersonal and communication
skills) whilst forging links within the community. Students who complete half a day
of volunteering in a helping or caring capacity for at least 12 weeks will receive a
certificate from the scheme to add to their CV or Portfolio. Participation from students
in the scheme is entirely voluntary and no direct incentives are given for them to take
part, although some students may choose to take optional modules PSYP208 – Work
and Psychology or PSYP311 – Psychology Related Work Experience and receive
academic credit for their work related activities.
If any of your students may like to be involved in the VWMS, or to discuss their
options     further,    they     can     contact     Lesley   McAleavy       on
volunteerandmentor@gcal.ac.uk , in room M439 or on 0141 331 8724.

If you would like any further information on the VWMS, please do not hesitate to
contact Lesley on the details above. Keep your eyes peeled as the Aiming University
Learning @Work team at GCU plan to issue regular updates regarding our progress.

If you have any queries regarding the information in this newsletter or the Project
generally please contact:

Lesley McAleavy ext 8724
Nuala Toman ext 1345

or email employability@gcal.ac.uk

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