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Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


It’s off to work we go: the role of universities and employers in developing digital skills for employability.

By Moira Wright, on 5 May 2016

Off to workThe next UCL Digital Literacy Special Interest Group will be taking place on June 9th from 2- 5.00 pm  (ticket link at the end this post).

The report ‘Digital skills for the UK economy’ (ECORYS UK, 2016), strongly suggests that the vast majority of the workforce increasingly need the confidence, skills and competences to use digital resources in the workplace. Although Higher Education institutions provide support for their learners in developing these skills, often at a high level, these efforts may be more focused on enhancing the student experience and achievement within the education environment than on their employability.

Indications are that workplace skills are better developed outside the traditional functional skills development model designed for the more specific occupations of the past and instead perhaps should focus on real-world learning experiences and novel approaches to help graduates develop the workplace skills needed today. A recent Spectator article about their internships highlighted ‘ If you write well but can’t edit an audio file or make short video (or work out how to) then this internship is probably not for you’ (Nelson et al, 2016) and novel ways of such as interactive infographics instead of CV’s being used to attract prospective employers attention becoming more commonplace such as this example – http://www.rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/.

Jisc have suggested embedding these skills within ‘connected curricula’ and recognising the lifelong learning aspects of employability as a graduate attribute could be underpinned by technology (JISC, 2015). The recent introduction by QAA of the themes of digital literacy and student partnership in developing employability have highlighted the need for higher education to face up to the challenge of delivering practical support in digital and workplace know-how to enhance graduate attributes (QAA, 2015).

Adaptability, flexibility, complex problem solving, working in a team and an ability to use an ever increasing range of digital platforms, technologies and environments are the abilities that the modern workplace requires – irrespective of role or career choice.

Who is responsible for developing these digital skills for employability – the university, the employer or the student?

This event will explore the issues around technology, digital skills and employability in order to provide an opportunity to reflect on evidence, good practice, challenges and opportunities.


Hugh Mannerings – Academic Lead for Retention & Attainment at Higher Education Academy

Tobias Buschel – UCL PG student – slack / student projects

Stephane Goldstein,  Informall – SCONUL 7 Pillars employability lens

Laura Firmin and Sophia Donaldson – UCL Careers – internships at UCL

Charlie Inskip – UCL Department of Information Studies

Please note the programme will be updated in due course with further details about the sessions and is subject to change.


ECORYS UK (2016) Digital skills for the UK economy. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492889/DCMSDigitalSkillsReportJan2016.pdf [ Accessed March 7th 2016]

Nelson, F., Ross, D., Thompson, D., Chancellor, A. and Beasley-Murray, B. (2016) Internships at the spectator for summer 2016. No CVs, please | coffee house. Available at: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/03/internships-at-the-spectator-for-summer-2016/ (Accessed: 14 March 2016).

JISC (2015) Technology for employability. Available: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6252/4/Technology_for_employability_-_quick_read_report.PDF [Accessed March 7th 2016]

QAA (2015) Higher Education Review: Themes for 2015-2016. Available:http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/HER-Themes-Guidance-15-16.pdf [Accessed March 7th 2016]

HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, The Rt Hon George Osborne and The Rt Hon Sajid Javid (2015) Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-the-foundations-creating-a-more-prosperous-nation (Accessed: 10 March 2016).

HEA, Learning and Employability series 1 and 2 (2006) Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/id116_employability_in_higher_education_336.pdf (Accessed: 10 March 2016).

Are we using technology effectively to support student employability?
Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2016/01/19/are-we-using-technology-effectively-to-support-student-employability/ (Accessed: 22 March 2016).

Link to registration and tickets via EventbriteIt’s off to work we go: the role of universities and employers in developing digital skills for employability.

For any queries about this event or the UCL DL SIG please email: moira.wright@ucl.ac.uk

UPDATE: Slides from the event:

Hugh Mannering presentation

Tobias Buschel, UCL Computer Science

Link below brings you to a video of the presentation for the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference Tobias did about the UCL slack project:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/stream/media/swatch?v=13daf5ac3474 (Tobias’s  speech starts at 8:45)


Stephane Goldstein, Informall






Sophia Donaldson and Laura Firmin, UCL Careers presentation

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