Higher Education Global Evidence Summit: Research to Practice Sessions - Employability
Supporting Employability During COVID-19: Evidence from Short-Cycle Programs in LAC
- Ruth Chisholm, Jamaica Program Director, USAID Advance, FHI 360
- Maria Marta Ferreyra, Senior Economist, Office of the Regional Chief Economist, Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank
- Eleanor Sohnen, Technical Advisor, FHI 360
Pre-COVID, in low and middle income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), 2.4 million students were enrolled in short-cycle tertiary education programs (SCPs), which prepare students for mid-level technical and associate professional positions. In LAC, these students are disadvantaged and have less access to virtual learning. During COVID, many SCPs have lost students and resources. They have struggled to adapt to the virtual setting while facing the major challenge of delivering crucial practical training and connecting students to economic opportunities. A World Bank panelist discussed new research on SCPs in LAC and recommendations for program design and implementation in the pandemic and beyond. An FHI 360 panelist delved into experiences implementing labor bridging activities for students in Guatemala, Honduras, and Jamaica. Key takeaways included how SCPs can hasten the recovery and improve resilience, opportunities for higher education stakeholders in the region, and recommendations for future research and programming.
Impact of Higher Education Career Services on Employability in Iraq
- Ammar Waleed Alani, Country Representative, IREX
- Stanley Currier, Senior Technical Advisor, IREX
- Lori Mason, Senior Technical Expert, IREX
- Syako Sulaiman Shekho, Senior Program Officer, IREX
In labor market research conducted by IREX with over 500 employers in Iraq from 2016-2017, industry partners stressed a critical need for English language, computer, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills among recent graduates. A 2020 follow-on career services evaluation involving over 1,000 students and recent graduates examined the impact of university career development centers (CDCs) on students’ employability. It found that CDCs are likely having a positive impact on youth employment outcomes. This session’s objective was to provide evidence of the impact that university CDCs in Iraq play in enhancing students’ employability, including virtual programming during the COVID pandemic. Participants learned how, despite formidable challenges, CDCs, industry, and Ministry partners provide students with significant professional development opportunities that boost their confidence, knowledge, and skills. IREX shared lessons learned from a decade of work in Iraq, offering audience members the chance to discuss relevance to their contexts as well.
Work-Integrated Learning for Employability: A South African Perspective
- Paul Othusitse Dipitso, Doctoral Candidate, University of the Western Cape
Universities are pressured to produce graduates meeting the demands of the ever-changing labor market. The study investigated how universities integrate employability into the curriculum through implementing work-integrated learning. This research explored various ways in which employability is integrated into the curriculum to promote the work readiness of mining engineering graduates. Findings revealed that the mining engineering curriculum values the exit learning outcomes set by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as part of the accreditation process. This suggests that accreditation could be relevant for ensuring that graduates satisfy the exit level outcomes, which supports the development of employability capabilities. The results provide valuable insights into how mining companies and universities can collaborate to design experiential learning activities that empower students to obtain the necessary work experience required in the labor market. Crucially, findings might assist curriculum designers in integrating technical and generic skills to support graduate employability.
Higher Education Students’ Transition to Employment: West and East Africa Perspectives
- Samuel Asare, Research Manager, Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA)
- Pauline Essah, Director of Research and Insights, Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA)
Of Africa’s nearly 420 million young people aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment. The problem is not just unemployment but underemployment (AfDB, 2015). Creating employment opportunities for young people in Sub-Saharan Africa is complex and requires different stakeholders, including higher education institutions. However, students have agency to make choices and take advantage of the opportunities available. The session will be a forum to present and discuss findings from a research project exploring how higher education students can facilitate their transition to employment. Key points will include engagement in advocacy at continental, national and institutional levels, participation in career fairs/training, flexibility in career/job opportunities, networking, and investment of time and effort in learning.
Motivating Lecturers, Centering Learners and Engaging Communities: An East African Model
- Jon Harle, Director of Programmes, INASP
- Gloriana Monko, Assistant Lecturer, University of Dodoma
- Tupokigwe Isagah, Lecturer and Head of Department, Computing Science Studies, Mzumbe University
- Walter Odongo, Senior Lecturer, Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness, Gulu University
How can African universities make their teaching and learning more relevant to their students’ future employment and society’s needs? How can they support staff in teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills and developing a more inclusive pedagogy? How can they motivate and enable their staff to lead this change themselves? This session introduced a “made in East Africa” approach to meeting these challenges. Discussions centered around: how they re-designed curricula at the course level to bring change into the classroom more quickly; how they supported colleagues to embed gender-responsive pedagogies; and how they created new and lasting mechanisms to engage communities, employers, and students in the process.
Perspectives for Entrepreneurship Among University Graduates in the Global South
- Patrick Musinguzi, Lecturer/Researcher, Makerere University
- Raymond Musiima, Programs Manager, Michigan Fellows Agribusiness Initiative (MFAI)
- Alice Turinawe, Lecturer, Makerere University
Higher education institutions (HEIs) have the opportunity to alleviate the challenges of unemployment and poor skilling that affect the thoughtful engagement of youth in entrepreneurship. University graduates in large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa find it hard to get employment after completing their studies. To increase entrepreneurship among graduates, the role of HEIs is derailed by funding constraints and capacity limitations within an evolving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Informed by findings from entrepreneurship learning and training programs in Uganda, the presenters focused on Global South perspectives on entrepreneurship. The views are: Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Benchmarking Approaches for Improved Delivery of Hands-on Practical Experiences, and Problem-Solving-Centered Teaching and Learning. The presenters used surveys and multi-stakeholder engagement to interrogate these areas based on the human-centered design. The model serves as an example of the role that HEIs and their partners, supported by USAID, may play to advance employability among graduates in USAID partner countries.
The Digital Transformation of Higher Education Internationalization
- Yacob Astatke, Assistant Vice President for International Affairs, Morgan State University
- Katherine A. Salvador Cisneros, Coordinator of Educational Research at the Center of Educational Research and Services, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral
- Veronica Onorevole, Associate Director of Programs and Global Initiatives, American Council on Education
Workforce demands for graduates with global competencies, including digital literacy, collaboration, and intercultural intelligence, continue to rise. How can higher education transform teaching, learning, and research to meet those demands in a landscape with ever-tightening budgets and greater competition for quality students? What new strategies are needed to effectively re-design academic programs and management processes to enable those transformations? What approaches can help mitigate resistance amongst campus stakeholders? This session critically examined how higher education institutions cost-effectively transform international teaching, learning, and research through greater collaboration and creative adoption of online modalities. The presenters shared insights, approaches, and key considerations for the digital transformation of internationalization focusing on transferability, including through breakout groups to brainstorm strategies for your institution.
Youth-Led Participatory Action Research in Ethiopia: Implications for Higher Education Innovation/Employability
- Temesgen Leta Bikila, Graduate Student, Arizona State University
- Meseret Hailu, Assistant Professor, Arizona State University
- Atota Halkiyo, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University
- Adnan Turan, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University
In this interactive session, four co-authors presented an emergent framework for youth participatory action research in Ethiopia and solicited audience feedback. Innovation and employability are major concerns for the sustainable development of Ethiopian higher education. Currently, the unemployment rate in Ethiopia is 2.79 percent, a figure that has climbed and will likely further increase as the COVID epidemic and civil war continue (ILO, 2021; Mackintosh, 2021). For those committed to the stability and wellbeing of the Ethiopian people, improving outcomes of higher education graduates in the labor market should be a priority. As team members of a USAID-funded project (Kefeta: Integrated Youth Activity in Ethiopia), the presenters proposed that student engagement through youth-led participatory action research (YPAR) is useful for advancing higher education innovation and employability in that YPAR can help HE systems and institutions incentivize research and innovation.
Improving Employability of University Graduates in Morocco
- Abderrazak Ben Saga, Head Division, Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation
- Mohamed Tahiri, Director of Higher Education and Pedagogical Development, Ministre of Higher Éducation, Scientifique Research André Innovation
The employability of university graduates is a priority issue for the Moroccan higher educational system. Increased university enrollments and university graduates are at the same time a challenge and an opportunity. More job opportunities need to be created, requiring adequate economic growth. On the other hand, an increased number of university graduates is a real asset for competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy if these graduates are well prepared. Morocco has been undertaking a profound reform of its higher education, whose essential objectives are to train empowered graduates with skills attuned to the job market’s needs. The undertaken reform concerns various aspects, including pedagogy, quality assurance, and governance. The paper presented salient aspects of higher education reform, focusing on those relevant to improving the employability prospects of university graduates.
Accessible Learning for an Inclusive Workforce – Lessons and Best Practices
- Angel Perez, Senior Technology and Innovation Lead, Leonard Cheshire
- Elizabeth Shiakamiri, Programme Manager, Innovation to Inclusion Project, Kenya, Leonard Cheshire
This session discussed how accessible technology can be a game-changer for people with disabilities to effectively build their skills and engage in the labor market. The presenters shared Leonard Cheshire’s initiative to create an inclusive digital employment pathway under our Innovation to Inclusion (i2i) programme supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office. In particular, they reflected on their experience working with people with disabilities to produce an award-winning training package on soft and digital skills that is accessible and inclusive. The presenters built on a learning paper on inclusive innovation scheduled for release in May 2022 that explores the following key question: “How can accessible technology be used to effectively engage and retain women and men with disabilities in work?” The presenters shared lessons and provided practical examples grounded in rigorous evidence that apply to the design and delivery of higher education provision.
The Role of African Higher Education Institutions in Advancing Youth Entrepreneurship
- Sera Gondwe, Lecturer, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Anastacia Mamabolo, Associate Professor, Gordon Institute of Business Science
- Abou Traore, Associate Professor, Michigan State University
- Peter K. Turyakira, Associate Professor, Makerere University
This presentation is aligned with the theme of employability, addressing the question, “Beyond their academic course of study, what are ways institutions can support the employability of graduates, particularly for underrepresented groups and individuals?” The selected theme concurs with the study conducted on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in promoting youth entrepreneurship in nine Sub-Saharan African countries. Existing research has shown that Sub-Saharan Africa has the youngest population globally; over 50 percent of African people are under 25 years. The growing youth population and many other factors place the continent in a demographic youth bulge and poor economic growth related to unemployment challenges. Although more youths enter the labor market seeking employment every year, the gap between supply and demand in the labor force widens. Some skill development and training initiatives have been implemented to promote knowledge and job readiness to the growing youth population for employment. However, a significant number of African youths still experience unemployment.