The main objectives of the start-up event were to:
- Present the EMPLOY project, promoting a debate on enhancing employability, the skills involved, and how we can collaborate with universities and employers.
- Encourage a dialogue between the "supply" (our university graduates) and "demand" (needs of employers, human resource managers, etc.), exploring matches and mismatches between them.
- Know, consider and integrate different voices and social actors in the academic and economic fields, including university management, education and employment counsellors, responsible business practices, experts and employers.
After a short presentation of the EMPLOY project, we focused on the voices of university staff and stakeholders, promoting informal interaction and listening to the expectations, needs, and challenges raised by the participants. In order to guide the debates, we proposed some initial questions:
- How do we understand employability and education / training / employability skills?
- What factors promote employability from the perspective of university staff and employers?
- How have we made progress in improving employability in recent years (training curriculum, internships, extracurricular training, connection to the world of work, programmes, counselling, etc.)?
- What are the challenges we face to improve employability. What would be the agenda for the next three years (2015-2017)?
We wrote a paper summarising some ideas and conclusions produced from the debates and sent this to all participants. We mentioned several ideas:
- Need of connecting students with the labour market.
- To promote stronger links between universities and companies. Universities should serve as a channel between students and companies to promote more exchanges.
University roles regarding students training:
- Training for life, and also preparation for a profession;
- Promote self-employment as a means of employment and improving employability;
- Adapt university education and professional profiles to the needs of the labour market.
Entrepreneurship is an important dimension related to employability
Some challenges we are facing:
- Social skills (especially the ability to integrate and become part of a workgroup) and emotional education are essential.
- Three basic skills for employment are: flexibility, continuous training and focused thinking "you are your business."
- Emphasis on the important role of the public sector and social / third sector to promote social justice, equality, inclusion and counselling, fighting against discrimination and promoting better opportunities for excluded groups.
- The importance of new technologies and the Internet in relation to training, employability, the transition to the labour market and development in the labour market.
- Importance of Vocational Guidance (conceived as innovation and opportunity for individual development.
- Importance of preparing students for job search. In recent years the way of doing this search has changed and there are people who are very well prepared in their discipline or professional field, but do not know how to seek employment suitable to their specific profile.
- Understand internationalization as a positive trait. Explore how academic mobility and international experience improve employability.
- Encourage companies and private employers to hire people from disadvantaged groups;
- Understanding employability as a transversal dimension of the academic curriculum;
- Improve policies and family reconciliation.