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Transitioning university information skills into the workplace

Donaldson, S; Inskip, C; (2017) Transitioning university information skills into the workplace. Presented at: NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2017, Las Vegas, NV, USA.

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Abstract

Information literacy describes the ability to recognize when information is needed, and to locate, evaluate, and use that information effectively. Information literacy is a key life skill for students and graduates, so much so that in 2006 UNESCO discussed information literacy as a basic human right in a digital world. Although the term is not widely recognised outside the world of librarians, the abilities information literacy describes map to multiple career readiness competencies required by employers in the workplace (NACE, 2016), and there is growing awareness that the use of information literacy research in careers services, graduate recruitment, and workplaces could significantly enhance student experience and, particularly, employability (Wiley, 2014). Examining the disconnect in information use between Higher Education and the professional world will help careers and related services to better support career readiness and prepare students for the path ahead. This project aims to foster engagement between stakeholders (librarians, careers staff, employers, job-hunters) and help library and careers staff in Higher Education to understand the information skills graduates need in their early careers. It also aims to produce a resource to help students and support services more effectively develop and communicate transferable competencies. The work was conducted by an inter-disciplinary team combining academic information literacy expertise with that of university careers professionals. It focused on a UK-based insurance firm, as this is a desirable graduate destination, and the Financial and Insurance sector has been in the top five most common destinations for University College London (UCL) graduates for the last nine years. The research took a phenomenographic approach, a popular methodology in information literacy research, which can lead to insights into differences between ways of thinking about a topic or concept. Rich qualitative data were gathered from an employer, employees and current UCL student job candidates in the financial services sector. The language around information use in the insurance profession was analysed to investigate employer, employee and candidate conceptions of information literacy in their work context. A comparison was made using vocabularies and thematic patterns of description to determine the extent of disconnect between stakeholder views. A pilot information skills translation e-resource/tool was then developed which will facilitate transferability of information skills and competencies from Higher Education into (initially) the insurance sector workplace. This tool draws from the research findings and provides guidance for users on how information literacies developed during their studies map to skills, competences and conceptions in their workplace setting (in this case, the Insurance sector). By helping students identify the transferability of their information and digital literacies, the tool has the potential of enhancing their employability in a highly competitive market by enabling them to “demonstrate and articulate their career readiness” (NACE, 2016). It will be open to all, under Creative Commons license. This session presents three key things to the audience. Firstly, sector insight, by discussing the project’s deep analysis of information use within a particular setting – an insurance firm. Secondly, it highlights an example of collaboration across ostensibly disparate university departments, to conduct interdisciplinary research that incorporates different perspectives and furthers multiple agendas. Thirdly, and most importantly, the talk presents the tool, which can be used by students and career professionals to facilitate the transition of information literacies from Higher Education into employment. References Wiley, M. (2014) A review of the literature on current practice in the development of employability skills, http://bit.ly/1yzS5dL accessed Oct 25 2016 NACE (2016) Career Readiness Competencies: Employer Survey Results, http://bit.ly/2eTUXhk, accessed Oct 29 2016

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Transitioning university information skills into the workplace
Event: NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2017
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Dates: 06 June 2017 - 09 June 2017
Publisher version: https://www.naceweb.org/conferenceexpo/default.htm
Keywords: information literacy, employability
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1556140
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