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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Software Developer - Norfolk - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Software Developer - Norf...

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?