Practical Guidelines for Joint Programmes on Employability

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Front page of the publication.
Front page of the publication

Full title
Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Employability Clustering Masters Courses and Attractiveness Projects: Lot 2 – Thematic Cluster on Employability

The Practical Guidelines were published in order to address coordinators, partners, alumni students, potential employers, potential applicants, current students and others interested. Practical Guidelines on basis of the findings of the surveys and the workshop were complied. Besides an outline of the major outcomes these guidelines consist of a good practice example from proven success strategies.

Author: European Commission.

European Commission. (2011) Erasmus Mundus Practical Guidelines on Employability, Clustering Masters Courses and Attractiveness Projects: Lot 2 – Thematic Cluster on Employability, MKW Wirtschaftsforschungs GmbH. Download

The purpose of the practical guidelines is to raise awareness about employability within Erasmus Mundus and to be useful as a tool to implement elements from existing achievements. The Practical Guidelines conclude with 10 “key recommendations” on how to provide students with prerequisites and resources to increase their “employability”, which are as follows:

1. Learn from different approaches – build up joint solutions
Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses cover a large variety of topics at different levels of specialisation. Nevertheless, the strategies to enhance employability have many common and transferable elements. More regular exchanges between EMMC coordinators would be therefore really profitable.

2. Communicate the Erasmus Mundus Brand Name (EMBN)
The “corporate identity” of Erasmus Mundus should have a clear focus on academic excellence and international competence. Exploiting the full potential of the brand and raising the awareness of the programme in the future requires a form of consistent institutional promotion.

3. Link Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses and labour markets
With the involvement of possible employers and other partners (research institutes, public institutions etc.) the link between EMMCs and the labour market can be strengthened. With the aim of identifying required competences and expectations an interacting network between the EMMC and potential employers needs to be set up. Quality improvement of the courses can be assured if the potential is used to adapt the course structure and curricula to the outcomes of those newly gained networks.

4. Deploy professional alliances for academia
Professional relations that coordinators and other academic staff share with partners outside the university are the most important resources for developing international exchange. These relationships can be of help for the funding for the exchange of top-level international scholars within Erasmus Mundus. This is only one example where the scientific networks can benefit from a wide range of relationships.

5. Give practical learning a place
It is highly recommended to integrate study-related internships as a mandatory element in the curricula. The interest of potential employers and organisations needs to be raised so as to develop a professional network for internships and research cooperation. The survey results have shown that internships are still not commonplace within the EMMCs, but that they prove to be highly profitable for the future career of students taking part in them.

6. Provide and integrate internships
'Practical activities with partners from research should be planned at an early stage. It is important to point out the added value that the Erasmus Mundus students can bring to industry. The objective in this context is to create a pool of internship placement opportunities from which students can choose according to their particular interest. This may lead to enduring contacts and possible employment.

7. Confidence increases commitment
Giving responsibilities to the students is a key element in working out strategies to enhance employability. Many EMMCs have benefited from students’ initiatives, e.g. in building up scientific conferences, useful web tools or alumni networks.

8. Unfold the impact of internationality
Although mobility is a major characteristic of Erasmus Mundus and internationality a main added value, the survey revealed that too much mobility can also hinder orientation and settlement. In addition to the academic requirements students might be negatively influenced through frequent relocations (problems of stress, visa issues and administrative issues, heavy workload). The major recommendation to the consortia is therefore to develop reasonable mobility streams and enable the group to grow together and to deepen relations.

9. Student networks are effective resources
For all the actors involved during the EMMC, keeping in touch is a crucial factor. The follow-up communication, punctual contact and setting highlights (e.g. yearly reunions, international conferences) is regarded as a promising strategy. Moreover, relations built up between students are of help to mediate job opportunities; alternatively alumni might take on a role as potential employers.

10. Activate complementary abilities
Employability refers to a range of abilities or competences asked for by employers. It refers also to the ability to open up job opportunities, the use of professional networks and the need for a clear view on career paths. Both aspects are complementary and the EMMCs should continue working on both. On the one hand courses should contribute to foster knowledge and competences which are required by potential employers. And on the other hand the skills of the students in the search for employment and their ability to “employ themselves” should not be neglected.