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Graduate employability as a professional proto-jurisdiction in higher education

Abstract

Much research into how universities seek to support their students’ graduate employability has focused on academic strategies such as graduate attributes and work-integrated learning, or the employability benefits of part-time work, volunteering, and extracurricular activities. However, the work of the professional staff who support these strategies is seldom addressed. In this article, we report findings from our documentary analysis of 376 Australian university job advertisements for professional roles directly responsible for graduate employability programs and services. We characterise employability as a proto-jurisdiction: an ecology of distinct forms of professional expertise and responsibility with ambiguous, elastic, and porous boundaries. We argue that despite the importance of graduate employability to institutions’ strategic and students’ individual goals, it is as yet an inchoate field of professional practice, consisting of a diverse range of work tasks, functions, and projects. We discuss implications in relation to quality, coherence, and the strategic resourcing of employability support in higher education.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Burning Glass Technologies, who provided us access to their database of job advertisements and therefore made this study possible.

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Correspondence to Michael Healy.

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Healy, M., Brown, J.L. & Ho, C. Graduate employability as a professional proto-jurisdiction in higher education. High Educ 83, 1125–1142 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-021-00733-4

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Keywords

  • Graduate employability
  • Career development
  • Higher education professionals
  • Higher education student affairs