To teach or not to teach? Skills, placements and aspirations: employability in education studies – findings from collaborative research


Teresa Bradley (
Warwick University
Caroline Bradbury Matthews ( Manchester Metropolitan University

This paper presents findings from a collaborative research project that explores ideas about employability in education studies. The project was undertaken by small research teams formed by lecturers and students from three partner institutions. Data was gathered through an online survey and semi structured interviews at a wide range of HE institutions across the UK who offer undergraduate education studies programmes. Interviews were conducted with participants representing students, lecturers and course leadership. Researchers particularly elicited views on perceptions of employability and attitudes to the importance of developing it within HE programmes, finding that the extent to which the development of employability was implicit varied. For some employability was seen to be grounded in providing CV writing and interview techniques whereas for others it meant developing self confidence and transferable skills including criticality. In addition, there was consideration of how possible career trajectories were marketed and considered within courses and how students’ initial aspirations were consolidated or transformed as their degree progressed. The extent to which teaching was seen to be the only choice was an obvious aspect to consider. Furthermore, researchers gained knowledge on the use of placements and how successfully they nurtured employability. It was interesting to note how placements contributed to either limiting or expanding students’ perceptions of career choice. Similarly, some disparity became apparent between students’ and course providers’ perceptions of the purpose of placements. These issues and their implications will be explored in detail in this paper.