UCL Careers


Embedding employability at UCL

In 2020, UCL Careers undertook a project to define employability at UCL and the resulting framework is known as the UCL Pillars of Employability.

The UCL Pillars of Employability is a UCL bespoke employability framework which defines employability at UCL and explains the key learning that a UCL student should undertake to prepare them for their future careers and lifelong learning.

The UCL Pillars of Employability was endorsed by UCL Education committee in 2021. It has been designed considering:

  • The UCL context for employability
  • Existing employability frameworks (from within HE; professional bodies and more broadly)
  • Literature on global employability skill development / future requirements of recruiters
  • Attributes required for career success.

Embedding employability at UCL 

Advance HE in their Framework for Embedding Employability (2013) recognise that the first step in embedding employability is to have an institutional definition which includes all stakeholders; is explicit at an institutional and programme level and is shared with students.

Having an institutional point of reference means it is then possible to audit the curriculum, take action and evaluate new measures put in place.

Embedded employability in the curriculum ensures equality of access for all students.  

    The six pillars of the framework

    The framework gives a starting point for discussion and reflection on your programme. Each UCL programme will have a different take on each element of the framework.

    Here we list examples associated with each of the six pillars of the framework. All of the pillars should be underpinned by reflection and articulation for the student to be able to effectively communicate their employability “assets” to an employer.

    View the student version which explains what employability means and how our students can develop.

    • Collaboration, leadership and management 
    • Research, problem solving, decision making and information literacy
    • Creativity 
    • Enterprise and entrepreneurship 
    • Technical: IT, digital, Excel, data.
    • Commercial awareness, including sustainable business 
    • Subject knowledge and interdisciplinarity. 
    Global citizenship
    • International mobility 
    • Cultural awareness
    • Global challenges. 
    Career planning and decision making
    • Self-awareness
    • Career decision making
    • Opportunity awareness.
    Values and personal qualities
    • Resilience
    • Adaptability/agility
    • UCL Core Values: humanity, sustainability, excellence, equity and community. 
    Experience and networks
    • Work experience and work related learning: internships, placements, year in industry, projects, volunteering
    • Building professional networks 
    • Developing career identity. 

    Using the framework in: 

    Practical guidance and tools to help you embed the pillars into your programmes, modules and academic support. 

    Programme design
    • When putting together programme proposal and module proposal documents prior to PMAP committee you can use the UCL Pillars of Employability to generate new ideas for learning outcomes, teaching activities and assessment techniques that map onto the pillars.  
    • We have a Pillars of Employability Curriculum Map for programme design to help with this.  
    • Once you are at final stages with your proposal you can use the pillars to review your whole programme; mapping where employability is present and where the gaps are therefore helping further develop your proposal prior to submission.  
    Programme review
    • Examine your programme/module with the pillars in mind. Identify where each pillar is present. Which are the strongest elements? There is an excel audit tool to help with this if required. 
    • For the pillars that are present -
      • is it clear/explicit to the students’ which pillar (or elements of the pillar) they have covered?
      • Are they aware of how this learning might develop their employability?
      • Are there opportunities for students to reflect on and articulate their learning in these areas?

    The Employability Curriculum Map can be used for ideas to help students with this reflection and articulation. 

    • For the pillars that are missing in your programme - consider how you could incorporate learning outcomes, topics, learning activities/techniques or assessments that might fill this gap. Use the curriculum map to guide you if needed. Work with UCL Careers and UCL Arena Centre to develop your ideas. 
    Partnership with students
    • Refer to the student version of the framework.
    • This can be used in personal tutor sessions or group sessions to enable students to reflect on their employability learning and work out what they might need to develop next.  
    • Talk to your department’s careers consultant if you would like us to deliver a workshop on this. 

    Further reading