VIPER Employability Model

The project aims to provide the outgoing Year Abroad students with the tools to fully engage with the ways in which their experience enhances their graduate identity, deepening the understanding of their future employability. The project utilises research into the perception employers have of graduate employability, carried out by Geoffrey Hinchliffe and Adrienne Jolly at the University of East Anglia*. They found that performance was not the only criteria that employers take into account, what emerged was a wider concept of graduate identity, resulting in the VIPER Employability Model; Values, Intellect, Performance, Engagement, and Reflection.

The Model takes us beyond the traditional thinking of employability, one focused on measurable and observable skills, which only serves to provide a check list of attributes. The research findings showed that graduates need to reflect and become aware of their own identity across the four areas of experience; values, intellect, performance and engagement. The research questions the thinking about a set of ‘transferable’ skills, and puts forward the idea of ‘translatable skills’, which emphasises adaptation to fit different situations and needs.

The AMS Year Abroad Employability Initiative uses the VIPER model to try to improve students’ reflection on their own values, engagement, intellect and performance, as these strengthen or change during their year abroad, in a different culture and environment. The alumni mentoring, is in part, a way to encourage the vital element of reflection.


  • Personal
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Trust and reliability
  • Understanding of the values of the organisation


  • Analytical and critical thought
  • Applying learning
  • Questioning and testing
  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Known and unknowns


  • What can one do and what can one learn to do
  • Applying skills and intellect
  • Employability skills – communication, numeracy, IT, interpersonal, etc.


  • Getting involved
  • Outward looking
  • Being there (alert to opportunities and challenges)
  • Being part of a team or organisation
  • Engaging in the wider community


  • Reflecting on learning
  • Where the learning and knowledge connects
  • How are knowledge, skills and aptitudes developing?
  • Why is one here?
  • What is one doing?
  • What values and interests are taken forward?

* Hinchliffe, G. W & Jolly, A., 2011. Graduate identity and employability. British Educational Research Journal, 37 (4) p.563-584

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