Driving organisational change and impact:
A case study on using the Chartered ABS professional development matrix
Over the course of the last 18 months, the Faculty of Business at the University of Plymouth (like many other HEIs with business-related programmes) has been focussing increasing attention on graduate outcomes – as measured 6 months after graduation by the Destination of Leavers from HE (DLHE) survey. The drivers for this are numerous, including an intrinsic desire to ensure our graduates succeed, alongside league table positioning, student recruitment, value for money and a range of regulatory expectations and demands.
The thinking on the part of the Faculty at the time was that it was simply a resourcing issue, in that not enough professional services careers resource was available to support our students from the University’s central Careers and Employability Service. However, whilst the range of support available to the Faculty was clear (e.g. a wide range of subject-specific and generic career development workshops, online resources, internships and placement support and administration, mentoring schemes, individual career guidance, and a central ‘on demand’ service), it was unclear as to the quantity of resource available for delivering as part of the curriculum and co-curriculum.
Given that Plymouth Business School is also off-campus (albeit only a few hundred metres), it felt important to ensure adequate delivery was being addressed more locally where our students spent the majority of their time. As part of a strategy to improve graduate outcomes, the Faculty Business Manager negotiated a clear workload model from the Careers and Employability Service after reflecting on the Chartered ABS Professional Development Matrix. Practically and simply, this meant being transparent about the number of hours we had to deploy each year.
By working with our centrally managed but “Faculty-facing” careers consultant, we were able to clarify the amount of time available for deployment across our full range of programmes and stages. The time available was in fact considerable (weeks), and it was not being fully utilised. A clear workload allocation helped to drive a cultural and efficiency change in that the Faculty of Business academic staff then started to see the value and potential impact of the existing resource available and where it could be best deployed across their programmes.
Over the last 18 months, the result has been much stronger academic and local-central professional services co-operation, working as one team, improving careers delivery time and focus within current resource and staffing. Whilst cause and effect is difficult to measure, graduate outcomes have been steadily improving over the last 18 months across Faculty of Business subjects. Moreover, the future careers delivery plan across the Faculty for academic year 18/19 is looking operationally transformational in terms of input, reach and focus compared to two years ago.
Dr Steve Gaskin
Faculty Business Manager (Faculty of Business)
University of Plymouth.