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Materials Student Employability Profile

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For most higher education students, employability on graduation and over the long term is a major priority. More and more higher education courses provide the means for students to develop their employability skills, to raise their own awareness of these skills and to increase their ability to articulate these skills. Such capabilities can be put into practice in personal development planning, work experience opportunities, job searching, interviews and similar situations and be of real help when making major career and life changes.

The underlying assumption is that a student’s life long learning capability and employability can be enhanced through their higher education experience without detrimental impact on their academic study. The impact of the effects of widening participation in higher education, along with greater diversity in the ways in which students learn, provides a climate where increased numbers of students can and need to benefit from supported development of their employability skills.

The Student Employability Profile for Materials was a valuable source of reference when I was writing an information sheet for students from this discipline.  ‘Options with Material Science/Technology’ (The Association of Graduate Careers Services 2005) helps students consider the skills which they have developed and provides details of the jobs related to their degree, further study and other options.

Jackie Leyland, Careers Service, University of Liverpool


Whilst it is for the Subject Centres and their communities to determine how a profile may be applied, it is envisaged that it may support existing initiatives in promoting a subject to pre university students, stimulating undergraduate skills learning, preparing students for work experience, and supporting job searching on graduation. This may in turn have a benign effect on the number and type of students applying to study a subject, on undergraduate skills learning, on motivation to study and on better discussions and negotiations with employers for work experience and job opportunities. So the areas for application may include:

  • Schools careers
  • Undergraduate learning
  • Departmental and student links with employers.

Employability Skills Profiles

The employability skills profile for materials can be used generically as support material in the applications mentioned. It can also be used as a tool to help an individual student identify examples of their own skills development through reviewing the list of possible skills identified by the Subject Centre from the QAA benchmark statement for their subject and from other sources. They may then map their own examples against the list of qualities and attributes typically sought by employers, so enabling the student to translate their learning experiences into language helpful to employers.

Materials – Employability Skills

As identified by the QAA benchmark statement for the subject, the employability skills that may be gained through studying materials are:

  • have acquired a good knowledge of basic principles of materials, supported by the necessary background science;
  • have a good understanding of the interaction between composition, processing, microstructure and properties, leading to appropriate application of materials;
  • have acquired some key practical skills and competence;
  • be able to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing;
  • have the ability to design and execute an individual project;
  • have an awareness of the importance of materials to industry and society;have an awareness of sustainability and environmental issues;
  • have acquired the relevant mathematical and computational skills;
  • have problem-solving skills;
  • be able to exercise original thought.

Employers’ Criteria

  • Cognitive Skills/Brainpower: The ability to identify and solve problems; work with information and handle a mass of diverse data, assess risk and draw conclusions.
  • Generic Competencies: High-level and transferable key skills such as the ability to work with others in a team, communicate, persuade and have interpersonal sensitivity.
  • Personal Capabilities: The ability and desire to learn for oneself and improve one’s self awareness and performance. To be a self starter (creativity, decisiveness, initiative) and to finish the job (flexibility, adaptability, tolerance to stress).
  • Technical Ability: For example, having the knowledge and experience of working with relevant modern laboratory equipment.
  • Business and / or Organisation Awareness: An appreciation of how businesses operate through having had (preferably relevant) work experience.
  • Practical Elements - Vocational Courses: Critical evaluation of the outcomes of professional practice; reflect and review own practice; participate in and review quality control processes and risk management.


By mapping their own examples against the list of qualities and attributes typically sought by employers, the student will be able to translate their learning experiences into language helpful to employers.




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