Employability affects both personal and professional fields and it needs time and room in order to be well processed. Students should think about their employability when they are still in the school system. But of course we can’t force them. Here the role of teacher is crucial. How can teacher work on it? How can teacher increase the employability of his students?
In Primera we borrow the approach to employability development by The University of Queensland:
- Awareness: understanding employability as both educational knowledge and the attributes that guide workplace performance
- Experiences: engaging with a range of experiences to develop the skills and the attributes for employability
- Learning: using self-reflection to translate experiences into employability development
- Transfer: communication employability effectively in the recruitment process and transferring learning into workplace performance
The model is focused on learning from experiences to develop employability and recognising how that learning makes people more effective in the workplace. School teachers play an essential role on it since they have to support students in getting familiar with such important model. The method we borrowed by the Queensland University is the SEAL process of self reflection.
- Situation: what was the new experience or challenge you faced and what happened to you?
- Effect: what impact did it have on you, what were the consequences of this impacts?
- Action: what action did you take to deal with the new situation and any challenges, and why did you do this?
- Learning: what did you learn from the experience and how will you apply this in the future?
This method is based on experiential learning. Indeed we believe that LEARNING COMES FROM REFLECTING ON EXPERIENCES. According to philosopher and educational reformer John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”
But technically how a teacher can support students in developing and increasing their employability skills? The role of teacher lies in creating an environment that support students in this learning-transformative process in every phase:
- Teacher can support students in understanding the deep meaning of “employability”: let’s invite an HR responsible and an employer in the classroom and ask them what they look for when they need to hire someone coming from the school. Let them talk about what they check in a candidate, what knowledge, competences, attitudes and skills should have the perfect candidate. In a simple sentence: what they expect from him.
- Teacher can support students in understanding the importance of doing experience and acquire new skills and knowledge by going out from the comfort zone; let’s invite some of your former students in the classroom and ask them to illustrate their most challenging experience they have done (studying abroad for one year; volunteer experience in an NGO dealing with disadvantages people; summer job far away from family-home for the first time). Focus the dialogue on how they felt in doing that, how much it was difficult at the beginning, how they tackle coming problems. And now ask to your hosts how much these challenging experiences were important for the job that they are doing now. Let them speak about the importance of these experiences in their personal and professional growth.
- Teacher can supports students in learning what they have experienced by the process of self-reflection; now it’s time to let talk your students. Use the SEAL model for doing that by supporting them in every single step: hear carefully their experiences; help them in well clarify impacts of these experiences; observe how they acted in dealing with these experiences and ask them why they had these reactions; support them in understand what they have learnt from these experiences, what are the final results and what they would do in case of similar situations in the future. And now, let’s do the most important task: help them to identify what skills they have developed as result of their experiences and self-reflection on them.
Once students have identified the learning they have gained from their experiences, they can better realise their own employability and determine just what makes them particularly employable. This is a great beginning for starting to think to their career. They won’t feel so disoriented and frustrated in moving their first steps in the labour market.
- Learning comes from reflecting on experiences
- The role of a teacher is supporting students in their learning/transformative process