Graduate Employability: the Graduate Identity Approach

In debates on how universities can best help undergraduates prepare for employment after graduating the 'skills agenda' is the dominant approach. The Dearing Report emphasised 'key skills'; a recent report to CVCP talked of 'employability skills'. Other terms used include 'transferable skills', 'enterprise skills', 'capabilities', 'personal competences'. Yet despite considerable time, effort and money being spent on the skills approach, its conceptual validity and practical value has yet to be demonstrated.

This site aims to critique this 'skills agenda', and present a theoretically credible and practical alternative, based on a relational perspective on skill and learning. A key aspect of this alternative is the focus on 'graduate identity':


Graduates in Smaller Business is a pilot study of a graduate identity approach, examining the experience of graduates who have gained employment in smaller organisations. Project undertaken with funding support of the Government Office for London; completed August 1998


Reframing the skills agenda in higher education: graduate identity and the double warrant
Presented at conference on The Future Business of Higher Education, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, March 2000

One more time, transferable skills don't exist ... (and what we should do about it)..
Presented at Higher Education for Capability conference, 'Embedding Key Skills Across the Curriculum', Nene College, Northampton, 27th February 1998

Reframing the Ability-Based Curriculum in Higher Education
Presented to workshop of the Ability-Based Curriculum Network, London, 1996

Competence and Capability: From 'Confidence Trick' to the Construction of the Graduate Identity
Presented at conference on 'Beyond Competence to Capability and the Learning Society', Higher Education for Capability, UMIST, November 1995
(Also published in O'Reilly, D. Cunningham, L. and Lester, S. (1998), Developing the Capable Practitioner: professional capability through higher education, London: Kogan Page)

The capability curriculum, conventions of assessment and the construction of graduate employability
Presented at Conference on 'Understanding the Social World', University of Huddersfield, 17th-19th July 1995

Skills - A Social Perspective
Published in Assiter, A. (ed.) (1995) Transferable Skills in Higher Education, London: Kogan Page

Knocking on the Door and Ringing the Bell: Higher Education, Graduate Employment and the Double Warrant
Presented at 'Recording Achievement' conference, University of North London and Higher Education for Capability, March 1994