Posted Thursday 23 December 2021
Kingston University has been shortlisted in two categories at the annual National Undergraduate Employability (NUE) Awards, recognising its work to set students up for success once they graduate. The awards, run by RateMyPlacement.co.uk, celebrate the achievements of employers, agencies, students and universities in undergraduate work experience across the United Kingdom.
In the first of two nominations, the University's ELEVATE accelerator programme, which aims to help students of Black African or Black Caribbean descent achieve their full potential, has been shortlisted for best widening participation initiative. Kingston is also vying for top honours in the best collaboration between universities and employers category, for a partnership with Lidl GB that helps develop students' employability skills while also supporting the retailer's early career strategy.
Both schemes form part of wide-ranging work by the University's careers and employability service to help prepare students for the world of work when they graduate, which sees the team work with a wide range of graduate employers from across the capital and beyond.
Through an employer engagement partnership with Lidl GB, the Times Top 100 graduate employer has sponsored the University's last three Careers Festivals, as well as running a series of skills sessions for students. These have included events themed around how to get the most out of LinkedIn, developing their personal brands, and another on the assessment centre process when applying for jobs.
The relationship with Lidl GB – which is moving to a new head office within the borough in 2022 –was a great example of the benefits such partnerships bring to both students and employers, Kingston University employer engagement consultant Olivia Trodden said.
"Lidl GB has dedicated a lot of time and effort to helping develop our students, providing them with the required skills and an understanding of how to interact with employers that will really give them the edge when applying for graduate jobs across a range of different industries," she said. "The work they do with us also provides them with valuable feedback from a diverse pool of students, helping them adapt and refine their recruitment strategies.
"We are looking forward to continuing to build on our work together in the new year, which will include harnessing Lidl GB's industry expertise to inform module design and ensure employability skills taught within courses match the changing needs of employers."
The ELEVATE programme, which in its first year won the award for best diversity, equality and inclusion programme at the Global Careers Summit, aims to empower and upskill students as well as working with partner employers and organisations to support them in taking tangible steps towards racial equity.
Throughout each academic year the programme runs activities that enhances employability skills through short term work experience, supports career exploration, and enables students to build networks with employers and alumni. Students are also invited to join a virtual community hosted through Slack, which brings together individuals with shared lived experiences of systemic racism and provides a safe space for support and guidance.
More than 400 students have so far taken part in ELEVATE, alongside some 27 employers. "The programme really at its heart demands a genuine commitment from all involved to student engagement and championing diversity," Zion Sengulay, careers and employability adviser, said.
"A key part of this programme is inspiring Black students to explore and consider career paths they may not have felt were open to them, build confidence and help broaden their horizons. Since its inception we've seen a number of students secure professional opportunities through employer partners, from mentoring to internships. We've been delighted with the high levels of engagement we've had from students and employers since launching ELEVATE and are looking forward to developing it further over the coming year."