Graduate employability and the Humanities
In a time when student tuition fees dominate the headlines, deciding whether to study at University is perhaps a harder decision now than at any time previously.
Moreover, although the Welsh Government is introducing a new tuition fee grant to help Welsh students starting their studies in 2012, vocationally oriented courses may appear more attractive to students as a means of getting onto the first rung of the career ladder.
But, consider the Humanities and the merits of studying such subjects as English, History, Classics, Religious Studies, and Anthropology for a moment. All these are disciplines that are exciting, fascinating and thought provoking; many reflect on the major problems and issues confronting our world today and explore important questions.
In addition, how many careers invite candidates who can communicate well in written and verbal form, who can work as a member of team, who can employ self management and problem solving skills, and who can analyse issues critically? Then the relevance of the Humanities degree becomes more apparent.
According to the Wales Employment and Skills Board, “Employers prize these skills, often above more technical or directly job-related ones”.
At the University of Trinity Saint David, the campus in Lampeter is renowned for its Humanities portfolio which includes Classical Studies, History, English, Theology, Philosophy, and Chinese Studies.
Whilst programmes such as Archaeology and Creative Writing have a strong vocational element, all the programmes have embedded employability skills within their curriculum. They encourage students to be analytical and autonomous thinkers, but they also ensure that students develop high level skills sets to help them in their future careers.
The University takes great pride in our efforts to ensure that all graduates are in employment at the end of their courses. Within the Humanities employability is now embedded throughout the curriculum, for example, through the variety of assessment methods that are employed in the modules.
These include individual and group presentations to develop communication skills, group projects to encourage team working and interpersonal skills, the completion of projects and portfolios with very tight deadlines to develop problem solving skills and encourage flexibility and, of course IT skills that underpin our learning and teaching.
The University also provides many opportunities for students to take part in activities that will broaden their experiences and skills. Some are provided as part of the courses; others are in addition. They all, however, enable students to develop employability skills and become familiar with workplace practices.
They include museum and archive experience, practical field work skills, work placements and tasters, for example in the Heritage and tourism sector, internships, and volunteering. The University also provides bursaries for internships to enable students to find relevant employment during vacation periods in addition to travel grants and field work opportunities abroad.
These have all proven to be very popular and have enabled our students to work with companies and organisations around the word. So, let’s be clear, the study of the Humanities is a viable option!