Minister sees how pioneering project equips graduates for the job market

Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, visited the University of Aberdeen yesterday (Tuesday August 31) to see a pioneering project which aims to broaden the University experience for students and make graduates more employable.

Mr Brown also announced plans for a new website to provide information about what happens to first degree, masters’ and doctoral graduates from Scottish higher education institutions.

The University of Aberdeen has led the way in the UK with the modernisation of its undergraduate curriculum with sweeping changes to the structure, content, delivery and flexibility of its degrees to ensure they match the needs of graduates and employers.

As part of this, the University’s Careers Service provision has been enhanced and extended to establish a co-curricular area on the second floor of the Hub, the University’s student space.

This new venue brings together work placement opportunities, the BP student tutoring scheme, enterprise and entrepreneurship activities, the STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) Award, study abroad provision including the ERASMUS and the International Exchange Programme.

The Hub facilities will also allow students to have informal discussions with University careers advisers, employability staff and information officers.

Peter Fantom, Head of the Careers Service, University of Aberdeen, said the new services would encourage greater use of the Careers Service by students.

He said: “The new facilities in The Hub place us at the heart of the student environment and we hope this will encourage greater use of the Careers Service by students of earlier years, enabling us to work systematically with all students during their university time.

“The University of Aberdeen offers a broad range of opportunities to students to enhance their university experience, for CV building and to maximise their employability.

“We have the STAR Award which rewards the contribution that many students make to the wider community, by recognising the transferable skills and competencies that they develop and enhance through participation in Students’ Association activities and community volunteering roles.

“The University has also been working hard to raise its profile with graduate recruiters and the Careers Service has an excellent track record in matching students with work experience opportunities and exchange programmes.

“With the competitive market for graduate jobs, the University of Aberdeen’s Curriculum Reform Project is leading the way to produce better informed, more rounded and more intellectually flexible graduates.” 

Mr Brown was given a tour of the new facilities and met those taking part in a new Aberdeen Internship Programme devised by the Careers Service which places students in paid and pastorally supported summer vacation placements within the University’s administrative functions.

As part of his visit he announced Scottish Government funding for the new interactive website  'What Do Graduates Do? Scotland'. This resource, the first of its kind in Scotland, will enable pupils, students, graduates and anyone contemplating a degree to see the career destinations of previous graduates by their subject of study.

 Developed and managed by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service (AGCAS) Scotland, the website will launch in the coming weeks offering a wide range of advice to prospective students and undergraduates as well as help for graduates looking for work and aiming to improve their job prospects.

Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, said: "We know that graduates looking to enter the jobs market are facing particularly challenging times and that is why it is so important that our universities and their careers services are engaging in the kind of innovative work I have seen here. 

"We identified the challenges facing those leaving education this summer early on and that is why we announced our Step Forward Scotland campaign and a £6.5 million package of measures that included thousands of modern apprenticeships, graduate training opportunities and a national employer helpline.

"I am now pleased to announce our involvement in additional help for our university graduates in the form of the 'What Do Graduates Do' web service. I am confident this service will help students and graduates make the right choices and find the best employment opportunities available."

Professor Stephen Logan, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen, added: “We were delighted to welcome Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong learning to the University of Aberdeen.

“The University is now advising other institutions in Scotland, the rest of the UK, and Europe on curriculum reform and a key tenet of the project is to integrate employability into the entire student experience. It was wonderful to be able to show the Minister first-hand the steps taken here at Aberdeen to ensure our graduates meet the needs of employers.”