In summer 2021, TASO announced two new research themes to be added to our existing portfolio, one of which is Theme 3: employment and employability. This theme was developed through a consultation and prioritisation exercise with key stakeholders, including our sector network, using a series of iterative surveys.

Understanding how higher education can provide all students with employability skills and improve their employment outcomes is an essential part of TASO’s overall mission of eliminating equality gaps in higher education. Ensuring that all students in Higher Education (HE) are able to progress into employment or further study is also a clear priority for the sector that was not being met by other research themes. We have therefore launched a programme of work on employment and employability in HE.

As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the labour market is undergoing significant and rapid change. It is more important now than ever to improve our understanding of how the HE sector can support present and future graduates careers. It is also essential to research how to provide the most efficient help to disadvantaged students, in order to narrow the existing employment gaps.

A report commissioned by TASO in 2020 summarises the existing evidence on what works to foster employability skills in HE. However, to this day, it appears that there is little evidence on interventions that address employment outcomes. The existing evidence base is weak, with very few studies establishing causal links. Having identified the existence of a gap, TASO is hoping to collaborate with the sector to generate a strong evidence base and promote good practices. This work is undertaken with an awareness that the topic of employment and employability is particularly complex, as these outcomes are mediated by a variety of individual, socio-cultural and economic effects.

As a starting point for this new theme, we aim to understand existing evidence of what works to reduce employment and employability inequalities, and where gaps lie in the existing research. That is why TASO has commissioned the Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) and the Education Policy Institute (EPI) to carry out a rapid evidence of the relevant literature and data around equality haps in graduate employability, progression to further study and employment. Additionally, a stakeholder consultation has been carried out to gauge from the sector itself which interventions are currently being used to address inequalities in employment and employability and how they are being measured and evaluated. This work will inform which interventions we prioritise for impact evaluation in future projects.

Read our published reports on employment and employability.

Find out about current research we are undertaking within this theme.