Degrees with maximum employability


Degrees now offer much more than an academic element.

With more graduates than ever before battling it out for the best jobs, you may wonder whether a degree really is the sure-fire way to secure a successful career. In today’s rapidly changing economy, industry leaders want far more than a few fresh recruits with letters after their names: they are after graduates with the business skills and savvy to hit the ground running.

This is where the idea of employability comes in. Wised up to the needs of business, universities now offer a great deal beyond the academic elements of their degrees. As Rick Trainor, president of Universities UK, makes clear, “Demands for graduate skills are constantly evolving and university programmes must reflect those changes.”

Enter a new breed of employability-focused degrees. “These courses place high emphasis on being relevant to the labour market,” explains Trainor, “providing you with the transferable skills in demand from employers and business.” So, as well as the subject-specific knowledge you’ll be learning, these courses build on your additional capabilities in areas such as communication, teamworking and problem-solving – key skills that put you a step ahead of the competition.

In order to enhance your employability further, many universities have teamed up with businesses to make sure their degrees deliver. According to Chris Snowden, chair of Universities UK’s Employability, Business and Industry Policy Committee, “Nine out of 10 higher education institutions now offer flexible, tailor-made courses for business. Over three quarters report that employers are actively engaged in the development of curricula to meet their skills needs.”

That is certainly the case for one new employability-based degree: information technology management for business. This programme has rapidly swept across the UK and is now available at 13 universities. It has been developed in collaboration with e-skills UK, a government-led grouping of big players in the field of technology, including BT, Cisco and IBM. Yet employability is not just for techies. Universities are pioneering a range of degrees to cater for all fields from finance to fashion; it’s really a matter of exploring what courses are out there. Nor does it exclude self-employment – the idea behind employability is to make you an effective worker, whether that’s for yourself or someone else.

Getting out into the real world is yet another way universities are ensuring students cement their employability. Mentoring schemes, work placements or a “sandwich” year in business will help you gain experience and build professional relationships.“ A high proportion of the University of Surrey’s graduates have always spent a year working in industry, developing skills relevant to the workplace,” notes Snowden.“ This has contributed to our graduates’ employability, with 97 per cent in full-time employment within six months of graduation – the highest rate in the sector.”

And it doesn’t stop there. As well as gearing you up to get that first graduate job, employability-conscious degrees can help equip you with skills to manage your career. Take the University of Aberdeen for example, which has introduced the “Working Out?” module to its biology courses, providing careerplanning advice along with specific tips on job applications and good interview technique. Now that more universities recognise its importance, any degree you go for will incorporate some aspect of employability.

On the UCAS website you can search for the degrees you are after as well as select courses that include a sandwich year in industry or professional training. Delve a little deeper by following the links to the departments themselves on institutions’ websites. Another useful resource is the Unistats website. Log on to see what percentage of students from each course go on to get a graduate level job within six months – a great indicator of a degree’s employability value.

You can also check out the guides produced by Universities UK for a range of employability pioneering courses. But of course, when it comes to employability, the big question is: will it all pay off? Yes, says Snowden. “A recent Universities UK report showed that additional lifetime earnings are now approximately £160,000, or between 20 and 25 per cent more for individuals with a higher-education qualification than for those with two or more A-levels.”

Web watch

Universities UK

Download publications for a sample of universities offering various employability focused courses


Find out how likely it is that different courses will get you graduate employment

Prospects - Employability uncovered!

What employability-skills recruiters are after and how to develop those skills further

Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Recruitment Consultant (Trainee / Experienced)

£18000 - £27000 per annum + doe OTE £45K: SThree: SThree are always looking fo...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are a recent psychology graduate ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Graphic Designer

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Largest Independent Motor D...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own