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Developing and Enhancing Graduates' Career Resilience; Perspectives from Higher Education Careers Professionals

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tracy Scurry



This is the final published version of a report that has been published in its final definitive form by Higher Education Careers Service Unit, Prospects, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Executive Summary This research aimed to explore the notion of career resilience as understood by careers professionals in universities based in the North East of England and Northern Ireland. It sought to examine how career resilience is defined and asked whether careers professionals have a role in its development and the challenges faced in its implementation. The research sought to explore the following questions: 1. How do careers professionals in Higher Education define career resilience? 2. What strategies/practices/frameworks/activities are careers professionals using to develop career resilience in graduates? 3. What are the challenges that careers professionals face in developing career resilience in graduates? Data was gathered using face-to-face, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 22 Higher Education careers professionals in the North East and Northern Ireland. The results highlighted that despite career resilience being cited as a key ‘feature’ in the landscape of the graduate labour market it remains highly abstract in application. Careers and employability professionals provided a range of definitions of the term suggesting an absence of a concrete understanding. Definitions of resilience from the individuals participating in this study included self-efficacy, confidence, ability to overcome obstacles and an ability to ‘bounce back’. As such, careers professionals’ definitions of resilience were framed within highly individualized narratives within higher education policy and practice. The findings highlight a number of challenges, concerning the support and development of career resilience within higher education. These challenges included the heterogeneous student cohort, the need for a holistic approach, the dominant narratives of successful employment outcomes and associated metrics of performance. The changing role of careers professionals in higher education was also noted. In conclusion, the findings of this project carry a number of implications for policy, practice and research. In particular, it has highlighted the need to consider how the wider context of higher education can support (or not) a range of stakeholders in the development of students’ expectations of and preparations for labour market and their future careers. We illustrate the challenges of acknowledging routes and transition experiences that are counter to dominant notions of successful graduate outcomes. It is hoped that that this research will inform careers guidance and intervention across the HEI sector to help prepare students and graduates for their future careers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scurry T, Smart A, Burke C, Blenkinsopp J, Stephenson S

Series Editor(s): Higher Education Careers Service Unit, Prospects

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: Higher Education Careers Service Unit, Prospects

Year: 2020

Pages: 23

Print publication date: 01/02/2020

Acceptance date: 24/10/2019

Institution: Higher Education Careers Service Unit, Prospects