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Do 'employability skills' matter? How important are employability skills to teachers, young people and employers today?

Merrifield, Karen Anne (2013) Do 'employability skills' matter? How important are employability skills to teachers, young people and employers today? MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis seeks to find out what teachers, young people and employers understand by the term ‘employability skills’. It goes on to look at how young people gain these skills and explores the implications of any mismatch in understanding between the three groups. The literature on the topic suggested that employability skills could be defined either as an evolving list of work-related skills, including teamwork, communication and leadership etc., or as a mindset demonstrating an awareness of a complex employment landscape and the skills required to succeed in it. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with seven employers and with teachers and young people in three schools (a sponsored academy, a comprehensive school and an independent school). The study found that teachers, employers and young people interpreted employability skills as life skills but often did not fully appreciate the role of employability skills in the context of widening participation to higher education, a more flexible market place and increased competition for jobs. The three schools used different methods to teach skills that could be described as employability skills. The sponsored academy used business as a context for learning to make clear links between academic learning and its relevance to employment opportunities. The comprehensive school combined discrete business events with embedding skills throughout the curriculum. The independent school focused on transferable skills in the context of academic study. This indicated a hierarchy of need, with the young people in the sponsored academy requiring the most support to navigate the employment market. The employers expected all young people to have a good basic education and reasonable communication skills. They were keen to work with schools to help young people gain employability skills, however, most did not offer employment opportunities to young people in significant numbers. This suggested that a lack of employment opportunities was a far more serious issue than any perceived lack of skills.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: employability, young people, schools, employers,UK, education business, work-ready
Academic Units: The University of York > Department of Education (York)
Depositing User: Mrs Karen Anne Merrifield
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2014 10:30
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2014 10:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5014

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