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Student Vacation Research Assistant: Improving graduate employability skills service provision- Open to current University of Worcester students only*

Research Assistantships provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV.


James et al (2013) argue that a broader research agenda is required by investigating not just the supply but also the demand and development of graduates’ skills. Employers are increasingly expecting students to possess practical and transferable skills (APM, 2016). However, in my experience whilst students appreciate the academic skills needed for improved performance and grades they are not as aware of employability skills. For example, team working is ranked at 6th place out of the top 10 employability skills (STEMNET, 2010) although initial results from my own collaborative research project into team-based learning suggests that students are either not aware or disagree that teamwork is a highly sought skill by the employers.

This VRA project therefore aims to formally explore current student and graduates’ perceptions of employability skills and the extent to which students and graduates develop employability skills prior to and during their undergraduate studies, and in parallel to higher education. The results of the project will enable to match the interests and the current knowledge of the business and management students and graduates with the highly demanded graduate labour market skills and suggest possible learning roadmaps. The gap between employers’ point of view and students and graduates’ perceptions of employability skills represents an opportunity to involve a VRA in evaluating both the awareness and development of employability skills of the business and management students and graduates.

The purpose of this VRAs research is threefold:
• Identify key employers’ employability skills requirements
• Explore employability skills for graduates from students and graduates’ perspectives
• Share new approaches for enhancing graduate employability and identify opportunities to improve student employability skills provision within and alongside the undergraduate curriculum

Students at Level 4, 5 and 6 and recent graduates will be asked to complete a survey. Surveying students at different levels of their undergraduate studies offers a more rounded perspective. Currently there are circa 750 business and management students studying at the Business School and there are circa 220 recent graduates (2016).

*Please note that this post is open only to students completing the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) at the University of Worcester or partner institutions;
Students completing, or who have completed, an undergraduate degree at another university (with 1st or 2:1 predicted/achieved) who are about to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester.

Closing date: Monday 29 May 2017

Reference number: STUVRA1702 - 2001

Job details

Job details

£8.44 per hour, plus £1.18 per hour holiday pay
Up to 37 hours per week
4 weeks full time (1.0 FTE) or part time equivalent (e.g. 8 weeks at 0.5 FTE)
Responsible to
Dr Vessela Warren
Responsible for
Interview date

Worcester Business School

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Mark Richardson, Head of Worcester Business School



The University of Worcester is funding 20 Vacation Research Assistantships for the summer of 2017. These Research Assistantships will provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV. These are prestigious awards, marking out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. In addition, this scheme provides UW staff leading on a research project with invaluable support in taking the project forward and experience of supporting and developing a young researcher.
On completion of the project, the supervisor and student must complete a report providing the following information:
• Objectives set
• Objectives met
• Methods employed
• Results
• Conclusions
• Outputs
• Benefits to the student including training undertaken, skills developed, etc.
Main duties

Main duties

1. To develop paper-based and e-questionnaire
2. To collect data from respondents
3. To diligently input the data from the questionnaire into a software
4. To conduct preliminary coding
5. To interpret both quantitative and qualitative data
6. To produce report of the findings
7. To contribute to end of award report
8. To disseminate results through conference presentation
9. To securely store all the project documentation on OneDrive

*Maintain personal and professional development to meet the changing demands of the job; participate in appropriate training activities and encourage and support staff in their development and training.

*Take steps to ensure and enhance personal health, safety and well being and that of other staff and students.

*Carry out these duties in a manner that promotes equality of opportunity and supports diversity and inclusion, and takes into account the University's commitment to environmentally sustainable ways of working.
Person specification

Person specification

Please provide evidence of how you meet each of the essential criteria.


1. Evidence of small scale research project completion
2. Knowledge of research methods and analysis
3. Strong interest in employability skills provision
4. Ability to communicate (in writing and verbally) confidently and clearly with a wide range of people
5. Excellent use of Microsoft suite
6. Self-starter with can do attitude


1. Experience of working on small scale research project
2. Experience in dealing with a wide range of people in a professional environment
3. High quality presentation skills

Applications from Non EEA Workers:

Prospective applicants are advised to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK without restriction.

Prospective applicants in points-based system immigration routes should assess their circumstances against the published criteria, which are set out on the GOV.UK website at

Visit for more information on how you can use a qualification from outside the UK to meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs

The University is strongly committed to the fair treatment of its staff and potential staff, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibility for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

In line with the University's policy on the Recruitment of People with a Criminal Record, shortlisted candidates are required to provide information of any unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs. Applicants are advised to seek independent advice if there is any doubt about the status of a previous conviction, caution or bind-over. Disclosures will only be considered at the point when an offer of employment is made. The existence of a criminal record will not in itself prevent you from gaining employment.

This is a description of the job as it is presently constituted. This job description is intended to enable a flexible approach to be offered working across the University as required. It is subject to review and amendment in the light of changing needs of the University and to provide appropriate development opportunities. Members of staff are expected to participate fully in discussions about changing requirements and it is the University's aim to reach agreement to reasonable change. If agreement is not possible, it reserves the right to require changes to the job description after consultation with the individual concerned.

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