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In our previous article we argue that employability is much more than simply about gaining a job or a set of generic and ambiguous skills. We suggest the importance of a more holistic approach to learning that takes into account ‘lifewide’ experiences (e.g. learning happening in multiple spaces simultaneously across all aspects of daily life; part-time work, sport, volunteering, caring responsibilities etc.), alongside and in addition to more formal education opportunities. Taken together, these can generate attitudes and behaviours that supercharge the knowledge and technical skills students gain through their individual journeys.

Others have argued that, with the increasingly heterogenous student population, we need to be thinking about the conscious development of “the whole person” in a way that enables students to break through the limitations other people put on them and the limitations they put on themselves  – whether resulting from their social background, personal characteristics or, indeed, education discipline. In this way, we can move on those students who start from a deficit position when academic grades are the only benchmark of success, who believe they will always fall short, that they have something lacking. They can come to recognise the value of a much richer tapestry of experiences and learning in life – one which these same students often have in abundance. This is critical if we are to move the dial on student self-efficacy.

Social identity approaches to supporting students are, then, becoming increasingly essential: who am I?; how do I fit in?; who will I become?  Professor Julie Hulme talks about how, as students transition through the stages of their university experience (from fresher to second year, from undergraduate to postgraduate, from finalist to job seeker), they need to reflect again and again on these key questions. As we also argue, students can only make informed choices throughout their journey that are right for them, when they have a real understanding of who they are and who they want to be. 

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