Cardiff University is a renowned institution that has been educating talent for over 130 years and one of the leading research universities in the world, consistently ranked amongst the top 200 worldwide and 2nd for impact nationally. It’s proud of its highly diverse student population of 33,000+ students, coming from more than 100 countries and with a range of backgrounds.
The Careers Services team has always been ambitious in its goals for how it can get not just current students career-ready but for how it can impact the career journey of all its alumni.
This is demonstrated by the Cardiff Award, one of the most effective employability development programmes in the UK with its 10th anniversary in 2021. Open to all students from the day they register, the structured programme offers students the opportunity to understand their personal and professional potential from day one, then encourages them to participate in activities online and in-person to develop their employability skills. The Award particularly “champions extra-curricular activity and experience outside of student studies and therefore recognises those achievements” said Ellie Ball, who achieved her Cardiff Award whilst studying her MA in Magazine Journalism.
It offers a practical experience of recruitment processes to help students compete in the graduate job market. This also includes formal recognition for work, volunteering and other extra-curricular experiences undertaken outside of academic studies and off-campus.
A high profile Award
At the graduation ceremony, graduates of the Cardiff Award receive an additional printed certificate alongside their degree. This makes completing the Cardiff Award a high profile and visible achievement to be proud of.
The Cardiff Award is organised and run by Cardiff Career Services, a small but powerful team responsible for helping all students achieve career success. Jane Goodfellow and her Career & Employability team were ambitiously setting goals to scale up the outreach by bringing not just the Award online but a programme of resources under the Your Career Journey banner that every student could access 24/7. After the Potential.ly team first met Deputy Head of Careers Service Megan Jenkins at AGCAS, Potential.ly were brought in to help bring the Cardiff Award to life online. It also meant there would no longer be a room full of paper from all the Award portfolios that used to be submitted physically. Together the following challenges were tackled:
“Potential.ly enables us to target student engagement by focussing activity on the career readiness stage that students are at. The pilot proved that much of our activity can be as effectively delivered online with the added advantage of being able to reach the whole student population, rather than a few. Students can participate at a time convenient to them, re-watch online content and save work in their personal cloud-based portfolio. Moreover, the platform provides each student with a personality assessment report which has proved both valuable and popular amongst students.”
Sharon Witts, Careers & Employability Project Manager at Cardiff University
Achievements over the last year
Year on year increasing interest and engagement from students.
The team’s efforts have paid off with the Your Career Journey employability platform seeing a 50% increase in engagement during the 2019-20 academic year vs the previous year.
Not settling on this success, the team saw this engagement exceeded with over 150,000 page views across resources and activities within the first five months into the 2020-21 academic year.
The team worked with Potential.ly to bring more programmes and features online to also enable students to complete the programme at any time and from anywhere that works for them. Whilst there are on-campus activities, they are not mandatory so this again offers more flexibility. Alongside the flexibility of the timing the team are now able to reach students who are final year, postgraduate, abroad or on placement.
The Cardiff University careers team have always been focused on being data-driven and being able to measure the engagement and outcomes of the Your Career Learning platform was no different. Through Potential.ly, Cardiff University can view and export extensive analytics. As Potential.ly is integrated into SITS engagement data can be combined with individual programmes of study, status and stage of degree allowing academic departments to be informed on how their student cohorts are developing across the University’s attributes, skills and values.
This has encouraged greater support and sponsorship of new resources that meet the needs of students’ competency gaps or aspirations as well as the development of bespoke sessions, for example, PHDs. This activity includes utilisation across behavioural diagnostics, skills audits, career opportunities indicators all mapped across the Cardiff Attribute frameworks.
Cardiff University also reviews whether the Cardiff Award has had a higher positive outcome on students vs those that have not completed the programme completing sample audits through LinkedIn and from destination surveys on where our Alumni are a year on. The team also introduced a survey for non-completers to understand why they did not finish the programme which helped lead to higher uptake and completion in 2019-2020.
Make it relevant. Great content for CU students, made by CU staff and students!
Over time, the offering from the Cardiff Careers team has grown to over 300 learning resources, workshops and activities for students - all seamlessly delivered via Potentially. The ability of the team to create such a rich offering is also a testament to the ease-of-use of the Potential.ly content editor, and the platform’s ability to embed and include other tools. The careers team created what can be considered a benchmark programme of rich media and activities within one learning context from;
“When considering upscaling and continuing to offer a quality service with either the same or even reduced team, buy-in is vital at all levels, both within the department and across the institution. Within our Service, the Award is included in other staff members’ remits in terms of promotion and support. When spread widely, it doesn’t have a huge impact on workloads. Word of mouth is our best recruitment channel and in particular through academics so it is worth the time and effort to build those relationships.” - Emily McCarthy -
The team is looking at further increasing recruitment figures each year and increasing retention rates. They are also looking to utilise the gamification tools within the platform with stepped badges, and tracking of growth for logged extra-curricular activity.
In 2020 the pandemic impacted everyone tremendously, not least students who couldn’t come to campus and many of whom were away for the first time. Being able to support students and graduates became a priority for most education institutions. As a result of all the hard work in building up the Your Career Journey platform, Cardiff University was capable of responding quickly, curating and creating a Covid-19 programme of resources within the platform for both students and any alumni to support career planning.
Secure and seamless login and journeys between the platform and other services (VLE, Job Boards systems, SITs...)