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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2018

4 - Employability



The theme of employability was introduced in Chapter 1 and this chapter demonstrates the many different ways in which academic library and information services are working to support student employability. It covers the following topics: academic libraries and employability, graduate attributes and working with students.

The library and information profession has responded to the increased focus on employability through a number of reports and reviews, for example SCONUL commissioned a review of the literature on current practice in the development of employability skills and the role of the academic library (Wiley, 2014), and CILIP published a report by Inskip (2014). There is evidence of changing and developing practices at professional conferences, e.g. see Wiley (2015) provides an excellent summary of the current situation including a detailed bibliography.

In addition, the SCONUL Employability Toolkit ( employability) gives an extensive range of resources, including a literature review and a series of contemporary case studies.

Academic libraries and employability

Traditionally, employability has been the territory of the careers service, but increasingly library and information workers are becoming involved in it as employability requires digital and information literacy. Library and information service staff support students (and staff) in the following areas:

  • • accessing and evaluating information, particularly online information, relevant to employability
  • • accessing and evaluating company information, e.g. in preparation for an Interview
  • • finding and communicating with professionals
  • • developing their online identity and networking.
  • Wiley (2015, 72) provides a useful summary of employability and its relevance to library and information workers in higher education. She includes the following observations on supporting students’ employability:

  • • Explicitly address employability skills in existing IL [information literacy] sessions (and their promotion) to demonstrate relevance to the wider institution and students.
  • • Seek to have a link on the websites of other university departments and services (such as careers and the Students’ Union) in order to reinforce the relevance of the library's training to employability skills development.
  • • Be proactive about contributing to existing awards and training: make contact with other services.
  • • Careers and other student services vary greatly in structure and responsibilities: find out how they operate in your institution.
  • • Accredited involvement in a core component of the institution's skills award or employability framework is the ideal.