The graduate employability strategy of The Independent Institute of Education (IIE), as implemented on Rosebank College campuses throughout South Africa, has been recognised as the top programme of its kind by International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.
The IIE recently joined a diverse group of tertiary education providers across emerging markets, including Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East North Africa, and Asia Pacific, that participated in an IFC pilot study.
The study assessed institutions’ strategies to enable graduate employability on several dimensions as part of a project developing a tool to measure the effectiveness of strategies within institutions. Ultimately, the work done at The IIE’s Rosebank College campuses was ranked very highly in the study.
Graduate employability is rapidly becoming an institutional imperative in tertiary education and any successful programme has to have a clear vision that embeds employability in the curriculum and assessments; engages employers directly; offers structured career services including coaching to students and graduates; has effective and efficient methods for sharing information; and links students, new graduates, employers and alumni.
By assessing these dimensions, the piloting initiative sought to assess institutional capacity in providing employability services and provided an opportunity to review existing policies and processes to strengthen their employability offering to their students.
The IFC team commended The IIE on the integration of employability imperatives from curriculum design to graduation, and in particular was impressed with the work done at Rosebank College.
The employability services on these campuses, under the guidance of Rosebank College’s National Graduate Development Manager Lillian Bususu and her team, ensure that the college maintains close contact with students and companies throughout the country, connecting students with the more than 800 prospective employers on their books.
As a result of the strong focus on, and investment in the employability of their graduates, and despite the tough job market, 62.5% of the Rosebank College’s Class of 2015 were in employment in 2016, and 76% of them secured a position within 6 months of completing their qualifications.
“Essentially, we have been able to develop a programme which ensures that our graduates not only have the skills that employers want, but also that these skills and qualifications are complemented by real-world workplace competencies, and that these rounded individuals are then matched to the right employers,” says Bususu.
“The result is striking, and employers often remark about the fact that we have a different caliber of graduate coming out of our institution. The additional work we do with our students – coaching them in aspects such as CV writing, personal presentation and marketing, handling interviews, and also very importantly, approaching the job search and the world of work with a productive attitude – makes an unmistakable difference.”
Bususu says public universities and private institutions have a duty to do more for their students than simply delivering knowledge and qualifications.
“We have to ensure that our young people understand and are able to navigate the intricacies and challenges of the real world, and we have to be able to help them successfully transition from lecture room to workplace,” she says.