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WRIPA & SEPnet Joint Embedding Employability Webinar 2020

From physics degree to graduate work: developing students’ work mobility and career-ready mindset

Thursday 23rd July 2020

Chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham and supported by the Institute of Physics


In the current economic climate there is all the more need for undergraduates, including
physicists, to gain work experience and access to employers to accelerate the
development of ‘work-ready skills’ and enhance their ‘employability’ in what will be an
increasingly competitive job market.

Employer engagement through curricular and extra-curricular activities is key to the way
both physics departments and careers & employability services create opportunities for
students to develop transferable skills. However, this approach is predicated on students
being ‘work mobile’ with a high level of social capital and the awareness to ‘fit’ their
degree programme into the context of the world of work. Evidence suggests that many
physics students choose not to undertake work experience or placements for several
reasons including lack of confidence; lack of awareness of their own skills and career
opportunities; or a so-called ‘science ego’.

The current crisis will lead to new ways of working for universities and business and may
lead to different opportunities. However, the key factors underpinning physics graduate
outcomes remain largely influenced by students’ access to ‘employability capital’,
engagement with careers advice and their career decision-making ability. These
challenges now sit in the context of a fluid and uncertain regional labour market and
university physics departments have an even greater responsibility to prepare students
for the changing world of work.


Driving improvements in student outcomes and employability – The OfS Perspective

Dr Brooke Storer-Church, Skills and Industrial Strategy Manager, Office for Students

An economic overview by region on skills shortages and what employers are looking for

Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence, Graduate Prospects

How mobile are physics students?

Dr Alastair Buckley, Senior Lecturer, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of

Tackling career-readiness and students’ emotional geography

Dr Samantha Pugh, Director of Student Education and Dr Alison Voice, Physics Education
Research Group, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds and Dr Sinéad
D’Silva, Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Universidade de Lisboa

How courses can be adapted to address skills’ needs – learning from another STEM discipline

Dr Mike Edwards, School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, Keele University