Gateways Not Pathways: Student Perceptions of the Portals to Employability




Employability teaching; graduate capabilities; non-traditional students; career planning; expectations gap; transitional pedagogy; career pathways; life long learning


The expectation that tertiary education leads to employment is one that most commencing students hold. A problem arises when there is a gap between the knowledge and skills students expect to acquire and the knowledge and skills course designers and teachers expect students to develop. The present study interviewed 22 first year students and 12 final year students to explore their expectations and experiences of employability teaching and learning, and compared these to the conceptions of employability articulated in their institution’s policy documentation. The findings suggest that most students believed that, to achieve their career goals, their primary focus should be on completing their academic studies, and that all relevant knowledge and skills would be unveiled during this process. As such, they viewed their time at university as a distinct stage in their development, one that must be completed before they move on to engage with the challenge of employment. Such expectations differ in important ways from those of the institution at which participants were enrolled, which sets employability within the context of an ever-changing job market and the consequent need for life-long learning. Moreover, while the institution clearly articulates the skills that they believe are embedded within their units and courses, this is not being conveyed to students. Implications of this research highlight the need to carefully consider what expectations students are bringing with them regarding the enhancement of employability and how institutions can best act to bridge the gap between students’ expectations and their own.


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Author Biographies

Edward Lock, Victoria University, First Year College

 Dr. Edward Lock is a teaching and research academic in the First Year College at Victoria University. His research interests are in course and curriculum design, transitional education as well as employability teaching. Edward designed, coordinated and teaches the introduction to the Bachelor of Arts unit as well as a multi-disciplinary evidenced based practice unit.

Kate Kelly, Victoria University, First Year College

 Dr. Kate Kelly is the Deputy Head of Scholarship and Professional Learning in the First Year College at Victoria University. She is a teaching focussed academic and predominantly teaches clinical skills to allied health students and career planning skills to psychology students. Kate has a keen interest in curriculum design and employability teaching.

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How to Cite

Lock, E. ., & Kelly, K. (2022). Gateways Not Pathways: Student Perceptions of the Portals to Employability. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 13(1), 65–78.