Employability in programme development: Establishing a labour market to higher education feedback loop drawing on local labour market intelligence

Project Details


Mismatch between the skills of graduates and those demanded by employers is widely regarded as a source of disappointing graduate outcomes such as unemployment and underemployment. With rising participation rates, inequality of graduate outcomes has widened. Compounded by economic shocks, the issue of graduate employment outcomes has become a policy priority. A wide range of information sources has emerged to inform the skills needs of local labour markets. Moreover, the European Education Area encourages collaboration on data collection in a harmonised and comparable way. However, practitioners in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that are tasked with developing courses and programmes are not experts in labour market intelligence and are unlikely to utilise it to support the development of graduate employability attributes through their teaching. Moreover, even when they do it is unclear whether available labour market intelligence is suitable to inform course and programme development in higher education.
The objective of the Employability in Programme Development (EPD) project is to establish a feedback loop from the labour market to HEIs in order inform programme and course design to best support the employability of future graduates.
The project consortium is made up of five participating organisations. Four of these are HEIs, which provide complementary academic and administrative expertise drawn from four distinct higher education systems: England, Scotland, Spain and Belgium. We also collaborate with the Catalan HE Quality Assurance Agency (AQU), which brings to the consortium expertise in graduate outcome surveys and access to institutioal networks across Europe.
Informed by the needs of stakeholders, the project consortium will map the availability of information on skills demand in the context of each participating institution as well as the needs of practitioners in participating HEIs for labour market intelligence to inform their course and programme design. This in turn will be used to design and develop a prototype labour market intelligence dashboard for use by staff in HEIs. To augment secondary data sources made accessible through the dashboard, a dedicated survey of graduates, specially designed to inform the needs of designing teaching programmes for employability, will be developed and piloted. We will also use the data from the survey pilots to write and publish an innovative report on the employability attributes that are important for the employment outcomes of recent graduates. We invite employability officers from European HEIs to a residential workshop exploring best practice for supporting academic and administrative staff to improve the employability features of their teaching programmes. A summary of best practice findings from the workshop will be published in a publicly available report.
The project will apply a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, user engagement and Delphi methods to identify the needs of HE practitioners, analyse existing data sources and create additional data. Based on this research, design methods will be deployed to develop an innovative employability dashboard that will make relevant intelligence available to HE practitioners.
Our target audience are academics, administrators, leaders and employability officers in European HEIs. We envisage changing the practice of programme and course development in participating HEIs so that staff will take full advantage of relevant labour market intelligence curated via our feedback loop dashboard to embed employability issues in routine programme and course design. Findings and outputs will be publicly available through a project website and will be further disseminated through outreach events. Thereby we envisage reaching a wider audience than the HEIs directly participating. Longer term, by establishing a feedback loop from the labour market to HEIs we envisage a HE sector better engaged with its labour market context, which is better able to cultivate relevant skills in their students and thereby support better labour market outcomes of graduates.
Short titleEPD
Effective start/end date1/09/2031/08/23

Collaborative partners

  • University of Glasgow (lead)
  • University of Reading
  • Free University of Brussels
  • Agència per a la Qualitat del Sistema Universitari de Catalunya (AQU)
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)


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