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“Teaching employability is not my job!”: redefining embedded employability from within the higher education curriculum

Kate Daubney (The Careers Group, University of London, London, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 3 August 2021

Issue publication date: 28 January 2022




This paper introduces a new approach to embedding employability by extracting from higher education curriculum the knowledge, attributes, skills and experience that employers value. The Extracted Employability concept enables academics to surface the innate employability value of what they already teach across all curriculums, disciplines and programmes, enabling students to prepare better for work and make more effective career decisions.


Manual textual analysis of all UK Quality Assurance Agency Subject Benchmark Statements surfaced a database of common descriptors for defining and articulating the innate employability value of higher education curriculum, enriching language in attributes and transferable skills.


Extracted Employability enables academics to articulate the employability value of their existing curriculum without sacrificing rigour or integrity, which is particularly of concern in research-led universities. Piloting the concept, a database of attributes and transferable skills enabled academics to surface significantly greater value for students from curriculum in the language employers recognise, addressing the perceived “skills gap”.

Practical implications

Students, particularly studying subjects not professionally-aligned, will find it easier to connect the extracted employability value of their curriculum with what employers are looking for. Academics can use richer language of skills for creating learning outcomes that also have employability value.

Social implications

Surfacing employability through curriculum makes it structurally unavoidable for all students to engage with, supporting social mobility and enabling students to realise more effectively the value of their higher education in work.


Research and practice on employability has derived from a position outside academic curriculum established by Knight and Yorke (2003), but this approach redefines employability from within academic curriculum.



The author is grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers for their incisive and enabling feedback, and for that provided by the many colleagues in the UK and internationally who have discussed and tested Extracted Employability in their context. The author is also grateful to the careers colleagues and academic colleagues who helped her implement and rigorously test this approach in its early phases.


Daubney, K. (2022), "“Teaching employability is not my job!”: redefining embedded employability from within the higher education curriculum", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 92-106.



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