Students Possess Adequate Skills

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To What Extent Students Possess Adequate Skills For Employability Upon Graduation


This paper outlines an investigation undertaken in response to the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (NCIHE, 1997) chaired by Sir Ron Dearing. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the employability skills of students against the skills that they felt the work placement provided. It was found that skill requirements of employers are converging with the skills that the second year undergraduates bring to the workplace. There is no longer a perceptible 'skills gap' between graduates and employer requirements. It was also found that employers provide students with the appropriate training to complete the assigned job successfully and that universities are unable to provide the graduate with all the requisite skills for employment. Further, this investigation has shown that some of the skills identified by the Dearing committee were not the skills that employers emphasised.

To What Extent Students Possess Adequate Skills for Employability upon Graduation


Sir Ron Dearing in his introduction to the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (NCIHE, 1997) put forward the view that 'the long-term demand from industry and commerce will be for higher levels of education and training for their present and future workforce' (Section 1.14). He characterised higher education in a lifelong learning society where students and employers would have explicit knowledge of what learning programmes were providing and their expected learning outcomes. 'Our consultations showed that employers want graduates to have a wide range of skills, such as those personal and cognitive capabilities that people use to carry out a wide range of tasks and activities' (Section 9.14).

Students in their third year of a BSc (Hons) Business Studies programme at the University of Salford have the option of spending the year in an industrial placement. The placement year fulfils the Dearing desire to have all students given the opportunity of work experience (Section 9.27). The benefit as expressed in Section 9.29 would be to 'complement traditional academic skills with a basic understanding of work.' Increasingly over the years fewer students are seeking to spend their third year in an industrial placement (35% of the 1999 graduates completed a placement with 28% in 2000 and 27% in 2001). This is against a backdrop of more and more placement opportunities becoming available. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the employability skills that students felt that the work placement provided. The information was used to provide more focus to the placement workshops that are run in the second year of the degree to support the students in their search for a placement. A second strand of the investigation was to evaluate the skills that employers are seeking from graduates against the skills that placement students feel they have acquired. Again this information can be used to enhance the second year placement support programme.

Literature Review

The skills learned by students during their academic career can be placed into the two broad skill categories of technical and ...
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