AGCAS Online Annual Conference Programme 2023

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Employability: Ethics and Evolution

27–29 June 2023 Online

Conference Sponsor



This year we are holding a hybrid conference, with our in-person conference at Keele University on 20–21 June, followed by this online conference to continue the conversation. We’re really excited about this new approach, which reflects our conference theme of Employability: Ethics and Evolution

This online conference is an opportunity for HE careers professionals to discuss how we, as a profession, support our students and graduates when there is so much uncertainty facing the working world We will consider how higher education careers and employability services adapt in the face of radical change.

Each online conference session takes place from 11:30–14:00 and focuses on a specific theme In each session, you will hear from a keynote speaker or panel discussion, then will have the opportunity for breakout discussions and networking Following a sponsor presentation and a break, you will then attend one of four fantastic parallel sessions, which will be free choice on the day

On day one our focus will be on evolving professional practice, with a panel session on integrating employability chaired by Gemma Kenyon, AGCAS Integrating Employability Director On day two we move onto graduate careers in a hybrid world, with a keynote address on graduate careers and mental health from Dr Nicola Thomas, Lecturer in Work Psychology, University of Sheffield Our final day will explore student values, regulation and professional responsibility, where keynote speaker Dr Doug Cole, Associate Director – Academic, Nottingham Trent University will look beyond employability.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to organising this event, in particular our conference sponsor, Symplicity, and our other sponsors who will be speaking in various sessions.

I’ve had a busy and enjoyable first few months as AGCAS President and really value input and ideas from the membership. AGCAS’s strength is its members so please take the opportunity to get in touch with me or one of the other Directors and let us know what you want from your professional association We’ve just relaunched the AGCAS Strategy so do take the opportunity to review and share your thoughts.

I hope you have an enjoyable and inspiring conference


PROGRAMME Tuesday 27 June – Online


Conference Sponsor

Wednesday 28 June – Online



Thursday 29 June – Online @AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PAGE 4




City, University of London

Gemma has been working in higher education careers services since 2009 and has been leading careers services since 2013. As Director of the City, University of London Careers and Employability department, Gemma leads a team of around 40 staff in functions such as careers guidance, employer engagement, placements, on-site recruitment agency, volunteering and professional mentoring The City Careers and Employability service particularly focuses on delivering employability education in the curriculum, credit bearing professional experience modules, proactive and intensive graduate support and targeted support for student communities under-represented in professional employment. The service is underpinned by the thorough use of data at all points of the student and graduate journey

Gemma also leads the development and implementation of City’s institutional employability strategy, including the Career Activation Programme according to which all undergraduate programmes have career focus education and professional experience as part of the core curriculum Gemma became the AGCAS Integrating Employability Board Director in March 2023.

PANELLIST Annie Yonkers

Future Skills Employability Manager

Kingston University


Dr. Dickon Copsey

College of Social Science Employabiliy Officer

University of Glasgow

Dr Dickon Copsey has been leading the CoSS employability team since 2009 and has established innovative curricular and co-curricular employability initiatives which support students to reflect on and develop their broader transferable skills. Since 2010, his flagship Graduate Skills Programme has been supporting approximately 300 students per year across the College of Social Sciences to reflect on and articulate the key skills and graduate attributes that will facilitate their entry into rewarding careers In 2012, he founded the ILM certificated Professional Skills Programme, which worked with approximately 400 students per year to develop their professional skills and workplace readiness With the onset of the Covid pandemic in 2020, Dickon led a transformation of their skills programmes In its inaugural year, the College Employability Programme saw over 3000 students enrol in its certificated skills courses which are embedded alongside credit-bearing courses

The Employability Office is supported by a team of student tutors and interns, who coordinate employability communications, industry speaker series, and co-deliver on the College Employability Programme Working with colleagues in the Careers Service, the Alumni team and the Adam Smith Business School, their innovative work with students was recognised by the CASE Circle of Excellence Award (2019) Dr Copsey has been involved in a range of funded action-research projects to develop university-wide toolkits for academic staff and students to engage with graduate attributes, including the recent Erasmus+ Employability in Programme Development project.

Tenacious and relentlessly curious, Annie is always searching for new things to learn and new ways to make connections Annie supports academic colleagues with incorporating equitable and authentic personal and professional development learning at Kingston University, where she completed her MA in Communication Design in 2019 Annie's research investigated how to take elements of design education and design pedagogy out of the art school and apply them in varied learning environments to cultivate compassion, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking skills




University of Sheffield

Dr Nicola Thomas is a passionate Work Psychology lecturer at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield Management School As the former Head of Research at the Institute of Student Employers, Nicola brings a wealth of industry experience and strong connections to her research.

Nicola is a recognized contributor to the BBC, regularly appearing on programs such as Newsnight, Woman's Hour, and BBC Radio Sheffield, sharingher expertise and insights to a wider audience.

With a PhD from the Technical University of Denmark and a post-doctorate research fellowship at the University of Liverpool, Nicola is an accomplished researcher specializing in the influence of emotions and mental health on individuals in the workplace Nicola has published in top management journals, co-authored books, and is currently working on a popular science book highlighting the importance of emotions in the age of AI.


Doug has fifteen years ’ experience in leading and guiding learning and teaching approaches in higher education Prior to this, he spent over a decade in industry working with a range of sports organisations in the UK, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

Doug is currently Associate Director - Academic in Employability Services at Nottingham Trent University He spent three years previously with the Higher Education Academy, focused on developing strategic approaches to learning for employability and student success with institutions across UK and globally Doug is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs.

In 2012, Doug developed the concept of a national framework and guide for embedding employability in the curriculum, to support all institutions in developing graduates with the qualities and capabilities that are vital for success, not only in securing employment, but also for life more broadly

In 2013, Doug co-authored the Higher Education Academy publication 'Defining & developing your approach to employability: A framework for higher education institutions'

Since this time, he has been testing and applying these underpinning principles in practice to help inform more strategic approaches to learning and teaching in the future.

In his spare time Doug is a local middle school governor and a governor to a college group in the Northeast of England



A: Practitioners vs. the machine: is our careers information and advice relevant in the age of ChatGPT?

Presenter: Miguel Rodriguez-Alcazar, University of the West of Scotland

‘The way we search for information online is about to change’ CNN Business

From career consultants to employer engagement officers, one core aspect of every HE careers professional’s mission remains the collection and provision of high-quality, accurate and up-to-date careers information and advice to clients and stakeholders. But how is this mission compromised by the exponential growth of Artificial Intelligence?

In this fun and interactive session, participants will have the opportunity to test their informational and advisory skillset against the knowledge base of the latest AI development to have shaken how humans (including university students and graduates) can search, access and digest careers information and advice: the controversial but ubiquitous ChatGPT

Practical group exercises will be followed by engaging prompts for participants to reflect upon any potential risks and benefits that AI may bring to our clients’ career development (as well as to our own professional practice), finishing with an uncomfortable but necessary interrogation: can careers services still compete with the informational wonders of AI?

B: Embedding careers, employability and start-up in teaching and learning through validation and periodic programme review

Presenter: Angela Standish, Liverpool John Moores University

In 2022, an employability section was introduced as part of Validation and Periodic Programme Review (PPR) with a focus on developing, building and evidencing the nine employability skills in LJMU’s shared framework, creating opportunities for students to undertake a meaningful work placement or work-based learning as part of their degree, and ensuring every student has an achievable onward plan.

Student Futures partnered with academic colleagues advising on mapping employability skills across the lifetime of the programme, talking through activities where students clearly recognise, evidence and articulate employability skills Careers and Employability Consultants and our Work Based Learning Consultant have helped programme teams identify subject-appropriate models of work-based learning and led on brokerage and support for initial project briefs In this session we’ll talk through the LJMU practices of acting as specialist advisors and design and delivery partners on careers, employability and start-up during the Validation and PPR process including the writing of advisory notes to Event panels and supporting plans to reality.

@AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PARALLEL SESSIONS Tuesday 27 June 13:00–14:00


C: Measuring the ‘golden thread’: student engagement, career thinking and Graduate Outcomes

Presenters: Fiona Cobb, University of London and Katy Coyte, University College London

The volume and variety of student data we are collecting, and the velocity at which we are collecting data within higher education is rapidly increasing (Shacklock, 2016:2) University careers and employability services now collect and hold large volumes of data across the full student lifecycle, from careers registration (Cobb, 2019), to engagement data (careers fairs, appointments, work based learning initiatives), student feedback and outcomes data. This data provides careers and employability services with opportunities to incorporate data to target resources and interventions, and to support and anticipate student needs

The Careers Group (TCG) Research Unit conducted an analysis of UCL data of the ‘student journey’ (from enrolment to Graduate Outcomes) to identify factors influencing positive graduate outcomes, such as highlyskilled work. During this session, we will explore findings from the research in the wider context of UK higher education policy and a metrics heavy regulatory environment

D: Embracing social media to engage students and graduates in careers services

Presenters: Jacqualine Wallace, Nottingham Trent University, Kaz Scattergood, University of Liverpool, and Hannah Vuozzo, University of Glasgow

Social media – we know it’s where our students and graduates spend their time, with growing numbers of Gen Z using platforms like TikTok as their search engine. Social media seemingly is the anathema to traditional careers communication methods. How do we navigate the changing way our audience interacts with our promotional content and shake off the more traditional image of a careers service?

Join us for a panel discussion with members from the often overlooked careers service communications teams Learn about the successes (and misses) of embracing social media, how to curate content which appeals to students and graduates and how communication teams bring traditional careers messaging into a very 21st century communications channel.

@AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PARALLEL SESSIONS Tuesday 27 June 13:00–14:00


A: What do graduates do?

Presenters: Charlie Ball and Dee Jones, JISC

What do graduates do? Join Dee Jones and Charlie Ball of Jisc as they talk about the new Graduate Outcomes data, what it means for students, and how it fits in with the current picture of the graduate labour market This is a chance for AGCAS members to talk directly to Jisc about how we can help you with data and insight over the coming year.

B: Supporting graduates in West Yorkshire to Jumpstart their career

Presenters: Gabi Binnie, Gradconsult and Ian Maude, Leeds Trinity University

‘GradSkills: Jumpstart Your Career’ is a new iteration of GradSkills (funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and delivered by a partnership of the 12 universities and post-18 colleges). It is delivered in partnership with Leeds Trinity University and Gradconsult

This first-of-its-kind project is a full programme of support for graduates residing in West Yorkshire who are under- or unemployed, consisting of engaging, asynchronous learning designed to develop critical employability skills/knowledge, as well as coaching, in-person learning, collaborative forums and employer events. It is open to any graduate residing in West Yorkshire, not just those from partner higher education providers (HEP).

The programme demonstrates how HEPs can use regional funding to work in partnership to support under/unemployed graduates at scale Each HEP has a graduate attraction plan designed collaboratively to engage graduates and target current finalists at risk.

By linking participants with employers who are actively recruiting graduates in WY, the programme seeks to support participants into graduate employment that is meaningful, fits with their plans and utilises what they learned during their studies

PARALLEL SESSIONS Wednesday 28 June 13:00–14:00


C: How to engage graduates from final year to Graduate Outcomes

Presenter: Tom Davies, University of Leeds

Post-pandemic, the University of Leeds completely overhauled their Graduate Support programmes, aimed at delivering specialist careers support and pointing them towards existing resources for a graduate and finalist audience respectively Where activity before had been focused on campus based in-person delivery, the pandemic forced our hand and led us to redevelop our programmes altogether.

We’ve now shifted to a more engaging, flexible, online programme with a more collaborative approach between Leeds universities for the benefit of all our finalists and graduates. The session will seek to highlight some of the successes (and failures!) we ’ ve had with this approach, and will feature representatives demonstrating the work they’ve done in this space, before breaking out into group discussions about similar activities being done across other universities

D: Career storytelling with local SME role models

Presenters: Caroline Hanson and Rachel Westwood, Sheffield Hallam University

When engineering and built environment students are asked who they would like to work for on graduation, large national and multinational companies are commonly mentioned. However, with our high proportion of commuter students and students with close family ties, many are also keen to launch their career locally

At Sheffield Hallam University we have sought to showcase personal career stories and raise the profile of local SMEs by:

SME fair and panel discussion featuring local employers

Career journeys guest speaker event for geography, environmental science and planning students

Women in Engineering and Construction networking event and video resource

Employers inputting into curriculum sessions and offering projects

This session will discuss and reflect on:

Good practice for working closely with employer engagement teams and local businesses

Your own university’s approach to broadening student employer choice and SME engagement

The power of career stories in tackling EDI barriers including stereotypes in relation to gender and ethnicity

@AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PARALLEL SESSIONS Wednesday 28 June 13:00–14:00


A: The power of storytelling in careers education


Sarah Warburton, Arden University

Arden University is a significant and growing provider of access to higher education for the government’s targeted low participation groups. The university's ethos is that everyone, everywhere has a right to higher education Most students have faced significant challenges in their lives, prior to and alongside the pursuit of higher education and in progressing their careers.

Arden Careers have started using a narrative and story-telling approach to the delivery of career education as a way to engage and inspire students. This has involved utilising the highly personal experiences of professionals to address many of the ‘ignored stories’ surrounding significant barriers that may face parents, refugees and carers in achieving career success. The Careers Team have found that by focusing on some of the sensitive issues and life challenges which are highly relatable to students, this has resulted in their own willingness to share their own vulnerabilities and inspire their career success.

B: Blurring boundaries: the future of international careers support


Maxine Bodicoat, University of Leicester

It’s no secret that there has been a huge influx in international students from varied markets with differing needs to the cohorts who have come before. Careers professionals may now feel they are wearing a range of hats which they are insufficiently prepared or qualified to don With this growth impacting every level of student and academic support it can seem as though careers staff now need to be visa and immigration experts, language and cultural gurus and have oversight of student recruitment and on-boarding.

During this discussion we will explore some of the ways Leicester are attempting to bridge the gap and enhance our support, whilst also recognising the limitations of our reach As a group, we’ll take the opportunity to discuss challenges faced by colleagues, share successes, and reflect on what it really means to support international students in an unstable and intangible labour market

@AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PARALLEL SESSIONS Thursday 29 June 13:00–14:00


C: Pathways and transitions: careers support for care experienced students and graduates

Presenter: Megan Davies, University of Stirling

Care experienced students face a unique set of barriers in relation to careers support, needs and aspirations. Lots of work is focused on getting care experienced students into university, but not out of it Getting to university is an achievement in itself, many care experienced individuals have a lack of social capital and are often unaware of the types of careers that would be available to them as a graduate.

In Spring 2022, the Careers Service secured funding to research this. We created two internships, exclusively for care experienced students and graduates of the university to explore the careers needs and ambitions of care experienced Stirling students, who would be able to bring their lived experience to lead this research looking at care experienced students’ career needs, and how we support them Hear from our interns about their research, the experience they had, and the legacy of this project.

D: Tackling the problems of today, whilst creating the leaders of tomorrow, with Enactus UK

Presenters: Phill Williams, University of Birmingham, and Amy Brereton, Enactus UK

We know many young people that are at the forefront of influencing social change. Enactus UK creates impact both on and through students engaging them in social action and social enterprise. Aligned to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Enactus UK has an established university programme operating in over 60 universities across the UK, engaging up to 3,500+ students each year. Enactus are dedicated to creating a better world while developing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders and social innovators

You will hear about the Enactus University Programme, examples of projects, and how the Enactus experiential learning platform develops young people and their career readiness. We’ll explore how Enactus facilitates students to meaningfully engage with the UK’s top employers. You’ll interact with university advisers about their experiences working with Enactus teams at their institutions and explore how your university can get involved in creating an Enactus team of their own.

@AGCAS #AGCASAC23 PARALLEL SESSIONS Thursday 29 June 13:00–14:00

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