City’s successful careers-focused strategy serves as a case study for the Higher Education sector.
Gemma Kenyon, Director of Careers & Employability at City, University of London, has been elected Integrating Employability Director by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service (AGCAS).
AGCAS is an independent higher education membership body that seeks to support the best possible career outcomes for graduates through advocacy, research and policy consultations.
“It feels great to have been appointed AGCAS Employability Director!” said Gemma. “I was chosen by careers professionals across the UK to lead the sharing of best practice for embedding employability within the curriculum.”
She was selected following the success of the Career Activation Programme (CAP), which was launched at City in 2019 to improve long-term graduate employment outcomes.
CAP is a sector-leading programme which embeds employability at the heart of the undergraduate curriculum with a compulsory careers-focused module and mandatory work experience for every student.
The programme was created in response to a 2017 report by the Department for Education which analysed graduate employment outcomes and found that the combination of career-focused education and professional experience helps graduates stand out when applying for graduate jobs.
“The Career Activation Programme at City is so important as it levels the playing field for students,” said Gemma. “We know that students who have a long commute to campus, or work alongside their studies to pay their bills, or have caring responsibilities, have less spare time to develop their employability.”
For National Careers Week, Gemma’s team is also celebrating its successful bid to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to work on a collaborative project with the University of London and King’s College London to develop a toolkit for inclusive employability education.
City has strongly linked its employability programme with equality, diversity and inclusion strategy and the University is dedicated to widening participation and preparing its students for their careers.
In the 2021/22 cohort of students, 44 per cent of City’s undergraduate students stated that they were the first in their family to pursue higher education. For many first-generation university students, higher education is an opportunity to broaden their career prospects and open them up to career paths that they may not have previously encountered through family and friends.
“I am passionate about making sure all students have equal opportunities to develop their employability regardless of their backgrounds or other factors they are juggling in their lives,” said Gemma. “This project is an opportunity to support universities all over the UK to enhance the employability support in their curriculum.”