Progressio, 35(1):134-165, 2013. Paper Website abstract bibtex
A major motivation for students of all ages to enter tertiary education is to improve their access to the job market and increase the likelihood of success in their career trajectories (McCune, Hounsell, Christie, Cree, and Tett 2010). This is particularly relevant in the South African context, which unfortunately claims an unemployment rate of 25 per cent (Statistics South Africa 2013). Universities therefore have to balance their broader purpose of producing well-rounded citizens with meeting the demands of the labour market. The University of South Africa (Unisa) is an Open Distance Learning (ODL) institution with more than 320 000 students (Unisa2012). Unisa sees employability as an indicator of student success and the institution's ability to provide qualifications that are appropriate for the ever-changing demands of the globalised knowledge economy. This article reports on the 2011 graduate exit survey, focussing on the employability and graduate attributes of the 2009 graduates. Whilst this article focusses on employability of Unisa students, it also provides insight into how the complex phenomenon of graduate employability can be studied in the broader global ODL environment. The conceptual framework developed for this study and discussed later is applicable to both local and global higher education contexts. The data provides insight into the black box of student employability and student needs for support to increase their employability.