Employability and part-time work: motives, career aspiration and self-efficacy

This source preferred by Gbola Gbadamosi

Authors: Gbadamosi, G., Evans, C., Richardson, M. and Ridolfo, M.

Start date: 24 April 2012

Publisher: Association of Business Schools/Higher Education Academy/British Academy of Management

With the employability of graduates ranking highly on the government’s agenda (Moreau & Leathwood, 2006, Tomlinson, 2007), many higher education institutions now embed employability frameworks within their curriculum (Harvey et al., 2002; Smith et al, 2007). Yet at the same time as HEIs are improving employability aspects for their students, increasing numbers of students are actually working part-time whilst studying for their degree (NUS/ HSBC Students Research, 2008). While students are motivated to work by a wide range of reasons (Richardson, Evans & Gbadamosi, 2009), the question arises whether students appreciate the value of skills acquired while they engage in such work beyond the financial rewards, and also its value in preparing them for the world of work.

In this study we seek to verify: the relationship between students’ part-time work and career choice and aspiration; the role of the employer in the development of students’ skills; and the role of self-efficacy in students’ part-time work. Self-efficacy is “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” (Bandura, 1995, p. 2). Notably, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. Consequently, this raises questions if self-efficacy plays any role in a student’s decision to work part-time or not whilst studying for a degree. This further strengthens the questions of whether employability is a matter of individual attributes and responsibility as opposed to being labour market (Brown et al, 2003; Moreau & Leathwood, 2006), with some authors feeling that personal characteristics are irrelevant in employability (e.g. Hesketh, 2003).

The study using survey method has obtained responses from over 350 respondents (students) of Business Schools of two post-92 universities in the UK. The instrument used was a detailed e-survey designed to elicit structured responses from the student body, providing quantitative evidence of student employment activities, their personal characteristics and self-efficacy.

The results from preliminary data analysis will be presented at the conference for open discussion which we hope will generate valuable input to enrich the final output. In particular, it is anticipated that delegates will contribute in discussing whether part-time working improves the employability of graduates, and whether students themselves recognise its value.

Data analysis is still ongoing, key implications are therefore tentative but relates largely to the following areas: •The role of part-time work in students’ career choices •The importance of self-efficacy in students’ decision to work or not work part-time •The value of employers’ contribution in the development of skills and careers of students on part-time work •The implications for curriculum design and integration of work placement / part-time work for students in HE

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