How innovative are we really in the context of teaching employability skills?

Sandrine ALÈGRE, University of Bath

Student employability has become a key concern of universities facing a more competitive environment in which recent graduates career destination is an important indicator in league tables. Higher education institutions are also anxious to present themselves at the cutting edge of innovation both in terms of research but also teaching, particularly in the light of the imminent introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework. The question that I would like to address in this presentation is whether these two concepts can be linked, and if so, whether this can occur in the language classroom.
My believe is that language classes are a privilege space where we, the language teachers, can develop/enhance students’ employability skills and have a crucial role in raising the students’ international profile leading to increased job opportunities. Following a brief overview of language teaching and learning in the British higher education, I will discuss ways of connecting employability and innovation in the language classroom.
In first instance, I will consider the concepts of innovation and employability. I will reflect on what we mean by innovation in language teaching and learning, where we stand today on the spectrum of innovative practices and if we are still moving forward in this area. Then I will ask what we mean by employability, and how it is defined by employers, specialised job sites and universities. In addition, I will consider why employability is a key factor in higher education, how it is reflected at institutional level and what the impact from a student perspective is. In an attempt to link theory to practice, I will explore how we can, as language teachers, link employability and innovative teaching. Through my presentation, I will share my experience and include examples taken from the curriculum of the BSc in International Management and French at the University of Bath.