Being prepared for the evolving world of work is crucial - Adam Watling

As we now move through the recovery phase, post lockdown, the rising employment figures being reported provide reassurance.

Adam Watling, Head of Student Futures, Edinburgh Napier University
Adam Watling, Head of Student Futures, Edinburgh Napier University

But the world of work is now more unpredictable than it has been for a generation, and the economy is set to transform rapidly with the emerging focus on green technologies and a clear commitment to a circular economic model for every sector.

For graduates, feeling prepared for the evolving world of work is crucial. They want their investment in a university education to accelerate their prospects and prepare them well for the world of employment.

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Supporting that journey at Edinburgh Napier is the remit of our Student Futures team, a dedicated group of employability experts here to support students’ professional development and prepare them for the world of work.

Ensuring that students are well prepared for the work place is the remit of the Student Futures team at Edinburgh Napier.

We know that, when it comes to interview success, confidence in their capabilities is as important as the academic knowledge of their discipline; and as an applied university we are proud of our long-established links with industry and the strength these ties bring in helping us create work-ready graduates: a win-win for employers and students.

Placements play a central role in giving academic theory relevance, with practical experience cementing understanding; and the Student Futures team works with employers to provide placement opportunities for almost all our undergraduate programmes, as well as a significant number of postgraduate courses.

During the uncertainty of recent months, 100 undergraduates from Business Management, Marketing Management and Hospitality, Tourism and Events programmes had the opportunity to undertake a work placement, and the results were amazing; both for the host and the students.

Abbie Menzies, a student, was offered a 32-hour contract with Smart Works – a charity that provides interview preparation and a complete outfit of clothes and accessories to help women feel at their best at interview – and Abbie loved the opportunity: “It was the perfect environment to apply my existing skills in a completely new working environment.”

Soft skills such as creativity are valued highly by future employers and industry speakers such as Duncan Wardle, ex Head of Creativity at Disney, help students put these skills into context.

Smart Works’ Beth Reid adds they took two placement students this year: “Both were great, particularly considering some of their time spent with us was working from home, which is that little bit trickier in any new role.

“We thoroughly enjoyed having both as part of the team and they made tremendous progress in supporting our outreach projects in their respective roles.”

Leading the way

Experiences such as Abbie’s and Beth’s are part of the reason why Edinburgh Napier is ranked among the UK’s top 10 modern universities for graduate destinations this year (The Guardian’s Good University Guide). And in the most recent graduate outcome results (HESA 2017/18), Edinburgh Napier’s Business School - the largest School in the university - recorded 96 per cent of graduates in work or further study after 15 months.

But there is no room for complacency and the Business School is now unique, certainly in Scotland, in providing all undergraduate students with a structured set of activities that run over the four years of their degree to create an evidence base of communication, collaboration and creative problem-solving abilities: soft skills that are all highly valued by employers.

With a strong programme of graduate apprenticeship degrees, and a broadening programme of short courses to support upskilling, our many partnerships with industry are ensuring our graduates offer the skills, expertise and flexibility employers need to meet the challenges to come.

Adam Watling, Head of Student Futures, Edinburgh Napier University

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