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Embedding Employability Consultation Begins at DkIT

12 April 2021

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) is proud to introduce the first phase of our Embedding Employability Consultation. Head of Career Services, Catherine Staunton and her team of researchers have just embarked on the institute's most ambitious research project to date on DkIT employability.

Funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, the institute's new focus groups initiative offers staff, students, and employers an opportunity to uncover and exchange employability best practice institute-wide. As part of this project, the team endeavours to develop an employability statement, a set of DkIT graduate attributes, and a bespoke employability framework.

Our Employability Champions

  • The institute has a dedicated focus on employability. We consistently perform strongly on the national stage, with 94% of graduates obtaining employment in their first year.
  • Two-thirds of our programmes have a formal placement module, and many examples of excellent employability practice take place, particularly involving industry partnerships. Yet, these examples often go uncelebrated.

This research will present the institute with an opportunity to identify where the institute is performing well in relation to implementation of employability i.e. via modules, programmes, or via each academic school.

The project team plans to interview Employability Champions across the institute. These include programme leaders, professional support staff, research cluster-led teams, employers, students, and lecturers immersed in applied teaching and professions-led degree programmes. The aim is to create a repository of evidence-based best practices, from which suite of resources for staff can be developed. Armed with these resources, staff will be able to add further value to their programmes and ensure students can hit the ground running upon graduation.

The project team has had an overwhelmingly positive response from these employability champions, who are passionate about giving DkIT graduates the best chance to thrive in the modern workplace and the pandemic-hit jobs market.

Focus Groups Begin

A series of focus groups have already commenced. In the coming weeks, the team will gather invaluable insights from all relevant stakeholders, and shine a light on all the excellent employability work we do.

Student success optimises the learning and development opportunities for each student to recognise and fulfil their potential to contribute to, and flourish in, society. 

National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in HE

The focus groups will establish of a set of DkIT graduate attributes. We wish to draw out a shared vision for our graduates, and cultivate those attributes through our teaching, research, and wider community experiences. These attributes will inform a bespoke employability framework by drawing from the lived experiences of staff and students.

In line with the goals of our Strategic Plan 2020–22, our students will be better prepared to enter the workplace, develop attributes that appeal to employers and connect their skills with societal needs.

Next Steps

Over the next few months, the project team will continue to seek advice and suggestions from both staff and students as they roll out the second research phase: the Embedding Employability Survey.

Have Your Say! Until then, we are keen that all DkIT members feel they can contribute. If you have any questions, please contact the Embedding Employability team who will respond to your enquiry directly. The team is particularly interested in ideas around how employability could be better addressed in any aspect of the DkIT experience.

Speaking today, Catherine Staunton, Head of Careers & Employability at DkIT added,

"On behalf of the Research Team and the Embedding Employability Steering Committee, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those who have lent their vital support to this project, in addition to the National Forum for recognising the project’s value and impact. We look forward to a shared vision for employability that brings out the best in our graduates and readies them for their future careers."

The DkIT Embedding Employability Steering Committee is comprised of the following members:

Dr Moira Maguire, Head of Centre of Learning & Teaching, DkIT; Maria Roddy Freyne, Hospitality Lecturer, DkIT; Pat McCormick, Head of Civil Engineering & Trades, DkIT / Dundalk Chamber; Taidgh Kavanagh, Student Union President; Raymond Murphy, Regional Skills Fora Manager; Anthony Murray, Employability Advisor.

The DkIT Embedding Employability Research Team is comprised of the following members:

Dr Michelle Cowley-Cunningham; Dr Jonathan Hodgers.

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