Study Group is launching a unique new employability scheme designed for international students, called CareerAhead.

The first programme of its kind, CareerAhead focusses on improving international students’ employability skills. Study Group introduced the scheme after consulting with students, partners, teaching staff and agents and identifying employability as a vital area of focus for students.

Initially piloted at the University of Sussex, CareerAhead is to be launched at the University of Leicester, Lancaster University, University of Lincoln, Kingston University London and Liverpool John Moores University. The scheme is run by pathway programme specialist Study Group and will ultimately be introduced across all of its UK International Study Centres (ISCs).

After analysing graduate employment market data to identify the main skills students need for success, Study Group built the programme into the University of Sussex ISC foundation and pre-masters courses. Students leave the ISC and progress to degree study equipped with skills relevant to employment markets in their home countries, a personal career development plan, a CV and a personal statement. They also have an understanding of how graduate recruiters assess candidates and the skills that are important for their chosen career. At the University of Sussex ISC, over 570 students have already completed CareerAhead.

Clare Mackie, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Sussex commented: “We welcomed the CareerAhead programme’s integrated approach as a way of increasing student engagement with careers services. We recognise how important it is to help students with their careers and equip them with the necessary skills to succeed not just in their degrees, but also in the workplace”.

James Pitman, MD Higher Education UK and Europe commented: “CareerAhead came about as a result of discussions held with our students, college heads, university partners and agents to understand more about their expectations and how we can enhance our students’ experiences and outcomes. One of the key areas of focus that this research identified was the need to assist students on their road to employment, wherever that might be. Academic success remains key, but ‘soft’ skills such as communication, teamwork and organisation are also becoming increasingly important to graduate recruiters. No other pathway provider has a clear and effective approach in this increasingly vital area and feedback from our university partners suggested that they’d be keen to increase international students’ engagement with their career services as well.

“After consulting with college heads and academic staff, the CareerAhead scheme was piloted at our University of Sussex International Study Centre and has been received very well by the students, over 570 of whom have completed it so far. The scheme gives students a solid grounding in the skills they need to demonstrate, in order to get a job in their chosen field, the employment trends in their home market and study destination market, how graduate recruiters assess candidates, as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. The aim is for CareerAhead to equip students with a personal career development plan designed to help them identify and achieve their goals. We have also integrated it into the existing curriculum so that students can benefit, without being distracted from the main focus of raising their academic and English preparedness for degree success.

“Employability is high on the agenda for international students seeking an education in the UK, as shown by the fact that career prospects came third in a 2014 British Council survey of important factors. We’re looking forward to helping more international students launch their careers with the roll out of CareerAhead across more of our International Study Centres, on the campuses of the universities that we work with.”

Image via Flickr.

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