Educating Tomorrow’s Scientists: Preparing Graduates for Work

By Adrian Edward Toland and Paul David Hooper.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper presents on an ongoing dialogue in England and Wales regarding the readiness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) graduates for the world of work. Employers often identify generic employability skills as a non-discipline specific priority for business when recruiting graduates and highlight that STEM graduates in particular are not sufficiently demonstrating these at recruitment. In addition, there is wider recognition of the importance of ‘T-shaped’ skills sets, where the depth of disciplinary skill is enhanced by the ability to apply knowledge across various work-based situations. The paper outlines a range of interventions across Higher Education that aim to enhance the employability of graduates. In addition, this paper raises the question as to whether future Higher Education curriculum development should focus on further graduate skills development or on better articulation of existing graduate skills among the graduate body. Is the answer, at least in part, related to how the language of employability is used by employers, interpreted by academia, and understood by graduates?

Keywords: Employability, Graduate Skills, STEM, Higher Education, Careers

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.129-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 798.976KB).

Dr. Adrian Edward Toland

Assistant Regional Director, National HE STEM Programme, School of Research, Enterprise and Innovation, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

A Physical Chemist with an academic background to doctoral level followed by significant post-doctoral research experience in Europe. An experienced communicator, having held a commercial position in industry, as a second level teacher and most recently a key facilitator involved in a wide variety of successful activities and projects spanning the interfaces between industry, academe and government. Most recently joined Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009 as a Business Development Manager acting as broker with industry on behalf of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. I currently hold the position of Assistant Regional Director for the National HE STEM Programme with responsibility for the development and delivery of activities in partnership with local universities other stakeholders.

Dr. Paul David Hooper

Head of Enterprise, School of Research, Enterprise and Innovation, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

Dr. Paul Hooper BSc, MSc and PhD–is Head of Enterprise Development in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Manchester Metropolitan University and for the 2009–12 period NW Regional Director of the National HE STEM Programme. In the latter role he led the development of the Programme priorities for Workforce Development and Higher Level Skills and has initiated a number of workforce development-related projects in the NW. He has always been engaged at the HE-employer interface through involvement in a series of applied research, training, knowledge transfer and consultancy projects related to his key area of academic interest–business and sustainability. Past sponsors of his work include; British Airports Authority (aircraft noise communication metrics for Heathrow), Airports Council International (environmental management and sustainability training), the International Air Transport Association (best practice guidance on environmental management and reporting), the Department of Regional Development Northern Ireland (BP guidance to airport noise management), Manchester Airports Group (development of a corporate responsibility programme and eco-footprinting tool), Technology Strategy Board (two projects designed to improve the eco-efficiency of landing and take-off operations at UK airports), and OMEGA a Knowledge Transfer Network sponsored by HEIF (carbon offsetting for aviation, new noise communication metrics and the feasibility of carbon neutral airports).