Whilst key drivers in UK HE are concerned with employability, the opportunities for students to meet employers are few and far between. If interactions do take place, employers may give 'guest' talks to students, but they rarely get the chance to see or comment on student work. Likewise, students may find it difficult to build their portfolios (either those containing real artefacts, or skills portfolios) without meeting employers and understanding their perspective. This project funded by the Higher Education Academy addresses this issue by getting employers to have an input into the development of, and assessing of final year Music Technology student portfolios.
As a requirement of the funding, the activities involved in the project resulted in a 'model' for employer engagement which results in positive impact on academics, students and industry professionals.
For academics, the model improves student engagement and the depth of understanding of professional environment.
For students, the model means they are more likely to actively engage with concepts before the industry interaction, and demonstrate subsequent awareness and perspectives not achievable through traditional learning methods. The 'uncertainty' also changes student behaviour and prepares them for the real world of work, having developed expertise through 'partnership' learning with industry professionals.
For industry professionals, such an approach requires them to develop novel skills in assessing student work and understand the different language used in higher education. By doing so however, they were better able to understand the path of graduates into employment and perform more effectively in recruiting employees or contractor for their own organisations.