Enhancing graduate employability and the need for university-enterprise collaboration

Thi Tuyet Tran


Over the last few decades there has been strong debate over the central mission of higher education and resistance to the employability agenda seemed strong. However, with the changing context of both higher education and the labour market, together with neoliberal pressure, enhancing graduate employability has become one of the central focuses in many universities worldwide.

This article provides an overview of the relevant literature to resonate with why graduate employability has been more popularly presented in many university practices. The notion of graduate employability is examined and it is argued that without input from and collaboration with industry, universities are hardly able to achieve their vocational mission of equipping their students for the labour market.


graduate employability, higher education, labour market, university-enterprise collaboration

Full Text:



AC Nielsen Research Services. (2000). Employer satisfaction with graduate skills: Research report. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.

Andrews, J., & Higson, H. (2008). Graduate employability, ‘soft skills’ versus ‘hard’. Business knowledge: A European study. Higher education in Europe, 33(4), 411–422.

Artess, J., Forbes, P., & Ripmeester, N. (2011). Supporting graduate employability: HEI practice in other countries. BIS Research Paper Number 40. London: BIS.

ACER (2002). Employability skills for the future. Canberra: Department of Education, Science and Training.

Beckett, D., & Mulcahy, D. (2006). Constructing professionals’ employ-abilities: Conditions for accomplishment. In P. Hager & S. Holland (Eds.), Graduate attributes, learning and employability (pp.243–265). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Billet, S. (2011). Curriculum and pedagogical bases for effectively integrating practice-based experiences. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC).

Billett, S., & Choy, S. (2012). Learning through work: Emerging perspectives and new challenges. Journal of Workplace Learning, 25(4), 264–276.

Blackmore, P., Bulaitis, Z. H., Jackman, A. H., & Tan, E. (2016). Employability in higher education: A review of practice and strategies around the world. London: Pearson.

Boden, R., & Nedeva, M. (2010). Employing discourse: Universities and graduate ‘employability’. Journal of Education Policy, 25(1), 37–54.

Bologna Process. (2016). Members - Bologna Process - European Higher Education Area. Retrieved 6th September 2016, from: http://www.ehea.info/members.aspx

Bruneel, J., d’Este, P., & Salter, A. (2010). Investigating the factors that diminish the barriers to university–industry collaboration. Research Policy, 39(7), 858–868.

Caballero, C. L., Walker, A., & Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M. (2011). The work readiness scale (WRS): Developing a measure to assess work readiness in college graduates. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 2(2), 41–54.

Cabellero, C. L., & Walker, A. (2010). Work readiness in graduate recruitment and selection: A review of current assessment methods. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 1(1), 13–25.

Cable, V. (R.Hon) (2010). A new era for universities. Speech delivered by the Secretatry of State on Higher Education. UK: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

Chapple, M., & Tolley, H. (2000). Embedding key skills in a traditional university. In S. Fallows & C. Steven (Eds.), Integrating key skills in higher education (pp.67–76). London: Kogan Page Limited.

Choy, S., & Delahaye, B. (2011). Partnerships between universities and workplaces: Some challenges for work-integrated learning. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(2), 157–172.

Clarke, M. (2008). Understanding and managing employability in changing career contexts. Journal of European Industrial Training, 32(4), 258–284.

Coll, R., Eames, R., Paku, L., Lay, M., Hodges, D., Bhat, R., . . . Martin, A. (2009). An exploration of the pedagogies employed to integrate knowledge in work-integrated learning. Journal of Co-operative Education and Internship, 43(1), 14–35.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (2013). Changing the pace: CBI/Pearson education and skills survey 2013. London: Confederation of British Industry.

Cooper, L., Orrell, J., & Bowden, M. (2010). Work integrated learning: A guide to effective practice. New York: Routledge.

Creed, P. A., Muller, J., & Patton, W. (2003). Leaving high school: The influence and consequences for psychological well-being and career-related confidence. Journal of Adolescence, 26(3), 295–311.

Davey, T., Baaken, T., Galan-Muros, V., & Meerman, A. (2011). Study on the cooperation between higher education institutions and public and private organisations in Europe. Brussels: European Commission, DG Education and Culture.

Department for Education. (2010). Securing a sustainable future for higher education (The Browne Review). London: HMSO.

Eames, C., & Cates, C. (2011). Theories of learning in cooperative and work-integrated education. In R. K. Coll & K. E. Zegwaard (Eds.), International handbook for cooperative and work-integrated education (2nd Ed) (pp. 41–52). Lowell, MA: World Association for Cooperative Education Inc.

Elder, S. (2014). Labour market transitions of young women and men in Asia and the Pacific. Geneva: International Labour Office.

Etzkowitz, H. (2004). The evolution of the entrepreneurial university. International Journal of Technology and Globalisation, 1(1), 64–77.

European Commission. (2003). The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge. Brussels: European Commission.

European Commission. (2005). Mobilising the brainpower of Europe: Enabling universities to make their full contribution to the Lisbon Strategy. Brussels: European Commission.

European Commission. (2011). Supporting growth and jobs - An agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems. Brussels: European Commission.

Evans, C. (2008). Developing career management skills within the HE curriculum: A review and evaluation of different approaches. The International Journal of Management Education, 6(3), 45–55.

Ferns, S., Campbell, M., & Zegwaad, K. (2014). Work integrated learning. In S. Ferns (Ed.), HERDSA Guide: Work integrated learning in the curriculum (pp. 1–6). NSW: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.

Ferns, S., & Moore, K. (2012). Assessing student outcomes in fieldwork placements: An overview of current practice. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 13(4), 207–224.

Fleming, J., & Eames, C. (2005). Student learning in relation to the structure of the cooperative experience. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 6(2), 26–31.

Foss, N. J., & Laursen, K. (2005). Performance pay, delegation and multitasking under uncertainty and innovativeness: An empirical investigation. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 58(2), 246–276.

Fry, H., Ketteridge, S., & Marshall, S. (2005). A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: Enhancing academic practice (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Gertner, D., Roberts, J., & Charles, D. (2011). University-industry collaboration: A CoPs approach to KTPs. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(4), 625–647.

Hager, P., & Holland, S. (2006). Graduate attributes, learning and employability. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Handel, M. J. (2003). Skills mismatch in the labor market. Annual Review of Sociology, 135–165.

Harvey, L. (2000). New realities: The relationship between higher education and employment. Tertiary Education and Management, 6, 3–17.

Harvey, L. (2005). Embedding and integrating employability. New Directions for Institutional Research (128), 13–28.

Harvey, M. (2007). The changing power balance between learners, universities and work contexts. In D. Young & J. Garnett (Eds.), Work-based learning futures. Proceedings from the work-based learning futures conference, Buxton, 2007. UK: University of Derby and Middlesex University.

Helyer, R., Lee, D., & Evans, A. (2011). Hybrid HE: Knowledge, skills and innovation. Work Based Learning e-Journal, 1(2), 18–34.

Hillage, J., & Pollard, E. (1998). Employability: Developing a framework for policy analysis. London: Department for Education and Employment.

Hogarth, T., Winterbotham, M., Hasluck, C., Carter, K., Daniel, W., Green, A. E., & Morrison, J. (2007). Employer and university engagement in the use and development of graduate level skills. UK: Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick: IFF Research Ltd.

Huber, M. T., & Hutchings, P. (2004). Integrative learning: Mapping the terrain. The academy in transition. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Jackson, D. (2015). Employability skill development in work-integrated learning: Barriers and best practices. Studies in Higher Education, 40(2), 350–367.

Jarvis, P. (2002). The changing university: Meeting a need and needing to change. Higher Education Quarterly, 54(1), 43–67.

Lowden, K., Hall, S., Ellio, D. D., & Lewin, J. (2011). Employers’ perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates. London: Edge Foundation.

Moreland, N. (2006). Entrepreneurship and higher education: An employability perspective. Heslington, York: Enhancing Student Employability Co-ordination Team, ESECT.

O’Leary, S. (2013). Collaborations in higher education with employers and their influence on graduate employability: An institutional project. Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences, 5(1), 37–50.

Orrell, J. (2011). Good practice report: Work-integrated learning. Strawberry Hills, NSW: Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Owens, J., & Tibby, M. (2014). Enhancing employability through enterprise education: Examples of good practice in higher education. UK: The Higher Education Academy.

Patrick, C.-j., Peach, D. D., Pocknee, C., Webb, F., Fletcher, D. M., & Pretto, G. (2008). The WIL [Work Integrated Learning] report: A national scoping study [Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Final report]. Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology.

Peach, D., Larkin, I., & Ruinard, E. (2012). High-risk, high-stake relationships: Building effective industry-university partnerships for work Integrated learning. Paper presented at the ACEN National Conference Melbourne.

Rosenberg, S., Heimler, R., & Morote, E.-S. (2012). Basic employability skills: A triangular design approach. Education+Training, 54(1), 7–20.

Rust, C., & Froud, L. (2011). 'Personal literacy': The vital, yet often overlooked, graduate attribute. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 2(1), 28–40.

Sala, G. (2011). Approaches to skills mismatch in the labour market: A literature review. Papers: Revista de Sociologia(96), 1025–1045.

Scott, P. (2005). Universities and the knowledge economy. Minerva, 43(3), 297–309.

Smith, J., Meijer, G., & Kielly-Coleman, N. (2010). Assurance of learning: The role of work integrated learning and industry partners. In M. Campbell (Ed.), Work integrated learning: Responding to challenges (pp. 409–419). Perth, WA: Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN), Curtin University of Technology.

Speight, S., Lackovic, N., & Cooker, L. (2012). Stakeholder attitudes towards employability in a Sino-British university. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 3(1), 26–40.

Sternberg, R. J., Forsythe, G., Hedlund, J., Horvath, J., Wagner, R., Williams, W., . . . Grigorenko, E. (2000). Practical intelligence in everyday life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tanaka, Y. (2009). WIL as human capital investment: An economic analysis. Paper presented at the WACE Conference in Vancouver.

Tomlinson, M. (2012). Graduate employability: A review of conceptual and empirical themes. Higher Education Policy, 25(4), 407–431.

Tomusk, V. (2004). Three Bolognas and a pizza pie: Notes on institutionalization of the European higher education system. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 14(1), 75–96.

Tran Thi Tuyet (2012). Graduate employability: Interpretation versus expectation. In N. Brown, S. M. Jones & A. Adam (Eds.), Research and development in higher education: Connections in higher education, Vol. 35 (pp. 317–325). Hobart, Tasmania: HERDSA.

Tran Thi Tuyet. (2014). Graduate employability in Vietnam: A loose relationship between higher education and employment market. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing.

Tran Thi Tuyet. (2015). Is graduate employability the ‘whole-of-higher-education-issue’? Journal of Education and Work, 28(3), 207–227.

Tynjälä, P. (2008). Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educational Research Review, 3(2), 130–154.

UK Commission for Employment and Skills. (2009). Employee demand for skills: A review of evidence & policy - Executive summary. London: WM Enterprise and Employment Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University.

Weisz, M., & Smith, S. (2010). Critical changes for successful cooperative education. In A. Brew & C. Asmar (Eds.), Higher education in a changing world: Research and development in higher education, Vol. 28, (pp. 605–615). Sydney, NSW: Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA).

Weligamage, S. S. (2009). Graduates' employability skills: Evidence from literature review. Sri Lanka: University of Kelaniya.

Wilson, T. (2012). A review of business–university collaboration. London: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Winch, C. (2006). Graduate attributes and changing conceptions of learning. In P. Hager & S. Holland (Eds.), Graduate attributes, learning and employability. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

World Bank (2011). Putting higher education to work: Skills and research for growth in East Asia. Washington D. C: World Bank Publications.

World Bank (2012). Putting higher education to work: Skill and research for growth in East Asia (p. 195). World bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Report, Washingon DC: The World Bank.

Yorke, M. (2006). Employability in higher education: What it is - What it is not. York: The Higher Education Academy.

Yorke, M. (2010). Employability: Aligning the message, the medium and academic values. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 1(1), 2–12.

Zegwaard, K. E., & Coll, R. K. (2011). Using cooperative education and work-integrated education to provide career clarification. Science Education International, 22(4), 282–291.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2016vol7no1art598


  • There are currently no refbacks.