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How ‘career-ready’ are our students?

19 November 2018

UCL’s new Careers Registration gives us a clear picture and helps us target our support.

Students working in a laboratory

All undergraduate and postgraduate students now take part in Careers Registration at the start of the academic year.

Careers Registration is one of several Office for Students projects being piloted as an effective way of measuring learning gain.

UCL is one of 16 HEIs participating in the project, which is ‘an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education’.

UCL introduced the registration in 2017 for undergraduates and taught postgraduates, extending it to postgraduate research students this year.

The information it gathers will help us to better monitor and enhance support for certain groups (e.g. students from under-represented backgrounds) and the longitudinal aspect of the data collection will enable employability learning gain to be measured, both vital for the TEF, alongside the Graduate Outcomes survey where students will be surveyed about their destination 15 months after completing their course at UCL.

At the point of enrolment/re-enrolment, students are asked three questions relating to their career-related activity to ascertain how ‘career-ready’ they feel:

  1. Careers Readiness: ‘Which statement best represents your current careers situation?’
  2. Work Experience: ‘Which of the following have you undertaken in the last 12 months?’
  3. Sectors of Interest: ‘If you have some ideas about your future career plans, which sectors are you interested in?’

The data received is segmented into categories:

  • Decide - no or little idea of future plans and/or not ready to start thinking about the future
  • Plan - career ideas defined but in need of help, or planning to seek work experience or training
  • Compete - already applying, or ready to apply, for graduate level opportunities or further study
  • Sorted - job or further study or business plan confirmed.

These are determined by the selection of answers available within the survey, and establishes where students are within their career thinking.

Analysing data from the work experience question, even in the 'decide' and 'plan' phase, many students have good graduate work experience. This does indicate for many students they are trying different roles as part of their decision-making process. 

How we can support students in the early stages of their career planning

The 2018 data shows that 65% of UG finalists and 72% of PGT finalists are in the early decision-making and planning phase of their career thinking, and therefore departments are encouraged to engage with UCL Careers to best support their students' progress. 

This could be:

  • Actively endorsing careers service activities
  • Embedding careers sessions into the curriculum or into student timetables
  • Including work-related learning in the curriculum or as part of a PGT dissertation

From the responses provided, UCL Careers can help identify students most in need of careers support and deliver more targeted, streamlined services, understanding where provision could be made available at more relevant times in the student cycle.

Through Partnership Agreements between UCL Careers and departments, we can help shape and underpin departmental needs of students.

In addition, UCL Careers continues to support graduates two years after completing their studies at UCL.  

Karen Barnard, UCL Careers Director commented: “For the first time, we have powerful data that tells us every student’s career readiness. This will enable us to provide more effective and efficient services to all programmes, vital in enhancing the student experience as well as supporting departments in their preparation for subject level TEF.” 

If you would like more information on this subject or to talk to us here at UCL Careers please contact:

www.ucl.ac.uk/careers
careers@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 3549 5900