Developing 'employagility': the 3Es case for live-client learning

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    Purpose - This paper reviews live-client learning activities in Higher Education, highlighting a lack of multi-stakeholder evaluation of ‘learning by doing’ pedagogies in current literature. It extends existing discussion of employability outcomes, dominated by findings from larger organisations, towards arguably, a more meaningful concept: “employagility”; whereby graduates engage in ‘agile’ life-long skills development, through exposure to learning within small to medium sized enterprise (SME), enhancing potential to contribute to local and wider economies.

    Design/methodology/approach - Findings from in-depth, semi-structured interviews and reflective learning journals, captured from triangulated perspectives, presented as the ‘3Es’: Employers, Educators and Engagers (in this case, undergraduate Marketing students).

    Findings - Students identified involvement in “real” live client projects, applying knowledge learned in the classroom to solve a business problem, enabled them to develop skills demanded by employers. Clients noted how student work exceeded expectations, providing tangible outputs and innovative ideas for their business, even through limited periods of interaction. Educators explained how relatively simple changes to curricula and extra-curricular activities can enable the development of SME-relevant ‘agile’ graduates.

    Originality/value - With SMEs at the forefront of Government programmes to lead economic recovery, it is imperative higher education institutions (HEIs) recognise the need for development of appropriately ‘agile’ graduates. This paper contributes a new 3Es model illustrating mutual benefits of collaboration, proposing a “competence-employagility” continuum.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2042-3896
    Pages (from-to)181-195
    Number of pages14
    JournalHigher Education Skills and Work Based Learning
    Issue number2
    Early online date1 Apr 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


    • employability
    • work based learning
    • live client projects
    • higher education
    • marketing
    • SME
    • employagility


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