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Kingston University's Navigate modules to prepare students for career success as part of drive to embed future skills across curriculum

Posted Wednesday 16 November 2022

 Kingston University's Navigate modules to prepare students for career success as part of drive to embed future skills across curriculum

Kingston University is embedding a new model of education across its curriculum with the launch of the Navigate programme – ensuring students on all courses are equipped with the skills, experience and opportunities to succeed in their future careers.

Building on the University’s Future Skills campaign, which has been highlighting the importance of skills for innovation and their vital role in driving a thriving national economy, the new programme will run across all three years of the University’s undergraduate degrees. The programme is being piloted this year before a full roll out in September 2023 and forms a key strand of the University’s new Town House Strategy.

Self-diagnostic and personal development sessions will be incorporated within credit-bearing modules, with a focus on developing skills employers particularly value, such as problem solving, communication and creative thinking. As students progress through their degrees, they will complete the Explore phase of the programme in their second year followed by the Apply strand in their final year, gaining a broader understanding of their potential career pathways. The programme will also support them to find out more about placement, study abroad and volunteering opportunities and engage with industry partners.

Ensuring the University produced graduates who were able to meet the changing needs of industry was central to the development of the Navigate programme, the University’s Interim Registrar Professor Sue Reece said. “We know from the research the University has conducted with businesses and industry for the Future Skills campaign that employers want to be able to recruit graduates who are ready for the world of work.  No matter what course they have pursued, employers want graduates who have the ability to solve problems creatively and adapt to changing demands,” she said.

“Alongside the subject knowledge students gain as they complete their degrees, our focus on the acquisition of future skills and how we are embedding it across the curriculum through Navigate, Explore and Apply gives us a real opportunity to work with them on developing core graduate attributes. We will be building the confidence in their abilities they will need in their future careers from the moment they enrol and right throughout their studies.”

The early stages of the programme involve diagnostic and self-assessment sessions to help students understand the importance of personal development, linking in to the personal tutor system. As they progress, they will be able to personalise their own learning, identifying the skills they already have and those they want to develop.

“This is a tailored approach – not just looking at academic progression but the student overall. It will encompass how we support their health and wellbeing, build resilience, and help them to take responsibility for their own learner journey,” Professor Reece said.

Alongside the development of graduate attributes, the University’s future skills training would bring students from a range of disciplines together, giving them tools to work in diverse teams that would help prepare them for jobs that do not yet exist, Head of Graduate Outcomes and Employability Skills Ali Orr said.

“We've known for many years that employers value transferable skills that are often seen as softer skills, but are actually the hardest to develop,” he explained. “We want to help students understand how their own degree programme helps foster those skills and to learn how to articulate and apply them to a range of situations. Using design thinking, they will have the opportunity to explore problems beyond their own discipline and beyond the University.”

Engaging with employers will be a key part of the opportunities provided through the programme. Students will have the chance to take part in assessment centre simulations and graduate expos, as well as live projects where they can showcase solutions and products to businesses.  “Our approach to integrating future skills throughout the student journey will create opportunities for employers to engage with students as part of their course, rather than as an optional extra,” Mr Orr said.

Students often saw academic development and wider development as separate elements. Navigate offered a way to change that perception, he added. “This work is very much about ensuring the graduate attributes our students are developing are recognised through academic credit and provide students with the platform to go on and succeed in their future careers,” he said.

The most recent study commissioned in partnership with YouGov as part of the University’s Future Skills campaign surveyed 2,000 businesses, including Coca Cola, TikTok and Mastercard, along with 1,000 students on the skill set most important to future careers and the economy. Leading firms shared their views on what mattered most in the graduates they recruited, with a lack of future-proofed skills the most pressing challenge they believed the UK workforce faced. Students also identified these as the attributes they most value.  

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