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Qualifications (5)

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Status Complete
Part Time No
Years 2008 - 2009

Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy

Status Complete
Part Time Yes
Years 2017 - 2021
Project Title The student voice in employability within tertiary business and management education
Project Description Employability is a set of skills needed to get a job. There is an expectation that students will exit education having developed employability skills in order to be successful in their chosen occupation. It remains therefore an important topic for research and it covers many areas from policies in Higher Education (HE) through to ideologies, practices and models to embed employability within the curriculum. The aim of this study was to discover the undergraduate student voice with respect to employability. It used Bourdieusian social theory and Tomlinson’s graduate capital model to better understand the meaning and development of employability. Higher Education, government and employers are all grappling with the problems of employability for graduates and this study provided practical and academic contributions in this area. The thesis presents a literature review, drawing upon government policy, empirical and theoretical academic studies to contribute to the research of employability.
The study took place within the business school of the University of Salford, located within the North West of England. Questions were posed in focus groups and interviews to undergraduate students undertaking a core professional development module. Responses to the student views were then collected via interviews with HE staff and employer stakeholders. A constructivist grounded theory method was applied across this study capturing various dimensions of opinion regarding employability. The student view of employability was grounded in the data and the method allowed the researcher to construct the reality as seen from the perspective of the students.
The findings of this thesis are that students had a deep understanding of the meaning of employability though its development was considered to be challenging. In contrast to some of the literature, students understood employability goes beyond simple listing of ‘transferable’ skills. This thesis uncovered a ‘placement dilemma’ whereby students understood the value of work experience for developing employability but due to various factors, uncertainty prevented some students from pursuing this avenue.
Furthermore confidence, a form of psychological capital was found to underpin the meaning of employability for students (Rattray, 2016; Tomlinson, 2017a). Within the theoretical framing for this thesis it has therefore been concluded that psychological capital is found to be a key enabler for the development of employability. Responses to students’ views by employers and staff suggested that continuous development is also a key element of employability. Hence this thesis advocates that HE and stakeholders should use continuous development and psychological capital to form a revised definition of employability contributing to an improved understanding.
Awarding Institution The University of Salford
Director of Studies Gordon Fletcher
Thesis The student voice in employability within tertiary business and management education