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Employability “monsters”: challenging barriers to success 

1 January 2020 - 1 September 2021

PI/s in Exeter: Dawn Lees

Sponsor(s): Small Grants Scheme

About the research

What is the project? 

Students from under-represented groups often face barriers in developing their employability as they transition into a) University and b) graduate roles, and the effects of COVID may create even bigger gaps. Students from under-represented groups are more likely to have limited access to careers advice at school, are less likely to have completed professional work experience and lack useful social networks (upReach 2019).

Who is it targeted towards?

The study focusses on first and final year students from under-represented student groups, in line with the Access and Participation Plan (2021-24/25): Lower socio–economic (Access to Exeter Bursary), BAME, Disabled, Mature, Care leavers/estranged. Students self-select which marker they identify with most to take into account of intersectionality. 

What do you hope to achieve?

We hope to be able to identify any barriers students face in accessing or engaging with Career Zone services and the graduate labour market and will then seek to address these challenges.

What is the primary research method you are using?

We will adopt liminality methodology to explore challenges to progression utilising research by Hawkins & Edwards (2015, 2017). Liminal moments are those during which transition occurs, transporting an individual from one state of being to another (Turner, 1969; Van Gennep 1960). Experiencing liminality in a workshop through the experience of modelling monsters using Lego® Serious Play® will offer students the opportunity to explore challenges, barriers, try out new ideas and identities and reflect on their experiences of liminal passage.  With the students, the workshop facilitators (‘hosts’) learn how to smooth this passage and make journeys less barriered.