n South African Journal of Higher Education - Examining the evidence : graduate employability at NMMU

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Globally there is increasing pressure on higher education institutions (HEIs) to enhance the employability of graduates by ensuring that university learning experiences contribute to inculcating the knowledge, skills and attributes that will enable graduates to perform successfully as citizens in the knowledge economy. Graduate employability is evidenced in a mix of personal attributes, understandings, skilful practices, and the ability to reflect productively on experience. This article will provide an analysis of research conducted at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to investigate graduates' perceptions of the extent to which their particular university qualification contributed to employability. The research was conducted by means of a structured questionnaire administered among NMMU graduates at graduation ceremonies in April 2011, with an online follow-up questionnaire administered two months later. Of a total of 5 397 graduates, 2 379 completed the questionnaires resulting in a response rate of 44.1 per cent. The overwhelming majority of respondents reported that their qualifications and study experiences at NMMU had enhanced their employability and this was supported by the research findings which demonstrated of all respondents had secured employment at the time of graduation. Respondents recommended various courses of action to further enhance graduate employability, including increased exposure to work-integrated or experiential learning and improved relations between university academics and employers. The study revealed that the purposeful design and delivery of curricula and co-curricular activities support the development of intellectual and interpersonal skills that enable graduates to fulfil a role, rather than merely possessing the immediate task-related skills that enable them to perform a specific job.

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