2021 Conference oral presentations 8-10 and closing talk

Session recording (UoY Panopto login required)

Employability Skills in Counselling Programmes: how they are developed and exercised in our Community Counselling Center

Suzie Savvidou; Department of Psychology, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus


Good academic performance cannot guarantee effective practice. There are excellent graduates, who do not perform satisfactorily in real practice. In counselling this tendency becomes even more apparent. There have been developments in HE impacting on assessment strategies. Some of them focus on acquiring subject specific skills through experiential learning. There has also been a debate on whether practice alone can be adequate for a trainee to complete a professional training programme, if it is not assessed. 

Opportunities for practicing theoretical knowledge become critical in defining not only the attractiveness of a programme, but they now constitute one of benchmark statements for accreditation bodies (e.g BPS, BACP). At CITY College, University of York Europe Campus,  we operate a Community Counselling Center free of charge and open to the public. It is run by our  ‘MA in Counselling Psychology’ students. Students complete the theoretical part, and when they meet the entry criteria, they attend a ‘Foundation Course’ and upon completion they start counselling external clients. Sessions with clients are videotaped (subject to consent) and trainees get feedback on their skills.

Through operating this service, the aim is twofold: 

  1. assess the practical skills of the students,and 
  2. have a positive impact to the community by offering services contributing to the well-being of people

This presentation will focus on the rationale of the programme and the procedure by which the local community can be helped.

Recording: Link to presentation start

Undertaking a Placement Year in the Covid-19 pandemic

Govind Panesar, Taylor Atkinson and Katy Elliot; Careers and Placements, University of York


We are a group of placement year students working within Careers and Placements at the University of York. We are based within the Employer Engagement and Events Team, Student Development and Leadership Team and York Cares. We will be reflecting on our expectations, experiences and skills learnt throughout our placements, highlighting how the year in industry has improved our employability in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. 

We initially felt that starting our year in industry during a pandemic would present setbacks, as we had to adapt to virtual working as well as transitioning from being full-time students to full-time employees at the University. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, we have still been able to integrate into the workplace culture, our individual teams and across the wider careers and placements service. We expected to develop broader skills such as communication and project management but have also had the opportunity to further develop skills such as flexibility, adaptability and resilience as a result of the current circumstances. 

In our presentation we will articulate our experiences, as well as demonstrate the wider benefits of employability within higher education. All three of us work within different teams across the Careers and Placements service which has enabled us to support one another in our roles, bringing different perspectives to our discussions. We now have a wider perspective on how the university operates, the importance of employability within higher education and the positive impact that placement year students can have. 

Recording: Link to presentation start

Graduate Attributes Badges: Verifying the Delivery of Employability Skills

A. Sotiriadou, Z. Tatsioka, N. Tsorakidis, S. Savvidou and P. Kefalas; CITY College, University of York Europe Campus


Recommendations of our Industrial Advisory Boards and Professional Societies guided us in CITY College, University of York Europe on forming a belief that discipline specific skills and knowledge alone are not sufficient for students to become competitive and successful professionals in the demanding worldwide job market.  In this presentation we focus on a set of generic and transferable skills, competencies and attributes, the Graduate Attributes (GA), which form the employability profile of all of our graduates.

The most challenging part was to verify that GAs are actually delivered and developed. Towards this direction, we developed a set of badges, which map each one of the GAs into a distinct and unique image. We demonstrate how these badges are incorporated in our programmes of study in a very visible way, by decorating each module specification, as well as every extracurricular activity.

The GAs influence decisions in the design of learning activities within or outside the curriculum and the badges assist us in determining how and when the GAs are developed and through which activities. Both staff and students are aware of how each module and each learning, teaching and assessment activity contributes to the acquisition of each one of the attributes.

Finally we discuss all those activities we have in place such as self reflection workshops, so that our students become self aware of the developed GAs in order to confidently present themselves to potential employers.

We have received commendations by PSRBs about the GA badging scheme towards employability.

Recording: Link to presentation start

Closing Talk

Professor Tracy Lightfoot, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students

Recording: Link to start

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