Employability skills are “A set of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that make an individual more likely to secure and be successful in their chosen occupation(s) to the benefit of themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.” (Anon, 2017). Nowadays in every industry’s sector employers emphasize the need for employees with some foundational employability skills as participation in higher education is increasing and employment market is becoming more competitive. Therefore providing relevant careers advice and developing the employability skills of graduates is important.
Improving undergraduates employability is now essential to degree programs and students who have higher education should be assured and confident not just on their knowledge and skills but also have the ability to enter the world of work and to be able to communicate these to the potential employer. Work-integrated learning in education “broadly refers to on-campus and workplace learning activities and experiences which integrate theory with practice in academic learning programs. This includes work placements, internships and practicum; project-based learning; and service learning.” (Jackson, 2013). For example, work placements and internships give you an opportunity to put learned academic skills and theory into real-life practice giving you a chance to develop work-readiness to the standard that industry needs from new graduates.
Having employability skills as an essential element of undergraduate studies and is important as it gives the knowledge, skills, understanding and personal attributes that employers are looking for. “Today’s employers require employees to have soft or non-technical skills in addition to technical skills 2-4. While such skills may vary with industries; they include knowing how to learn, communication skills, creativity, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, leadership, and ability to function as part of a team” (Mansour and Dean, 2016). The number of undergraduates in the most recent years has increased and made the competition for higher skills positions to increase as well. Employers recognize the importance on skills and attributes from undergraduates that are outside the subject area of their course of study in higher education. For example, extracurricular activities like volunteering, involvement in societies and work experience are seen as having equal importance as the knowledge acquired through academic studies.
Having employability skills taught in undergraduate studies is important as it gives the right mix of abilities, skills and personal qualities. Employability skills may also be referred as transferable skills. These are the skills that are relevant to a number of different industries and jobs. It is essential to develop a range of soft, transferable skills in today’s growing international economy. These skills like teamwork, problem-solving communication and many others can be learned through education, training and employment. These skills can help you to pursue a potential employer even if you don’t necessarily have the needed experience. As example:”studies have found that nearly two?thirds of all graduate vacancies are open to graduates from any discipline with the type of skills required dependent upon the role to be carried out within a particular organization” (Andrews and Higson, 2010).
It is as important for students not only get to develop skills but also gets an opportunity to understand how organizations work. “Work-based learning is increasingly being viewed as an important vehicle by which undergraduates can develop personal and social skills, as well as gaining knowledge of how organizations work.” (Little, 2010). Universities and employers believe that it is important for them to develop a relationship. Universities are now bringing possible employers from all kind of business that introduce their companies and give an opportunity to have a closer look and understanding how the organization works as well as how their technical skills that they have learned can be applied in the business world. “Students valued interaction and exposure to industry, the use of guest speakers from industry and recent graduates coming in to share their knowledge and experiences of business, and the arrangement of enterprise weekends to encourage interaction with young entrepreneurs. “(Andrews and Russell, 2012).
Employability is demonstrating whatever you have an experience or skills that stands you out crucially. Developing your portfolio and building your cv is very important. A portfolio and cv is a proof and records that show your accomplishments, experience, skills and attributes that you build up during your education years. “For many graduates, the message is clear: as well as performing well in their degree subjects, a range of additional attributes need to be achieved in order to be truly competitive in the graduate job market” (Neugebauer and Brain, 2016). It is very important for universities to introduce graduates to the importance of developing these attributes, competence in the labor market, as well as help students, build their achievements and skills during their years in university.
Employability skills are very important because the characteristics of the work require flexibility, and ability to handle different tasks. Employability skills is an aspect that should be known. Students of undergraduate and diploma of three years individuals should be able to develop their full potential to succeed academically and technically and succeeded in building their careers in the workplace after graduation. “An implication is that the undergraduate years need to be years of transformation”(Harvey and Knight 1996) (Knight and Yorke, 2004). Many universities are now recognizing the graduate attributes of their students and as a result, global competencies are becoming more important in degree programmes.
The employers are still expecting undergraduates to demonstrate a high level of knowledge and skills .”The employers also think the graduates demonstrate a lower level of knowledge, skills and attributes than required, as the difference in the mean values of “Employers think graduates should require” and “what graduates actually demonstrate”(Poon, 2014). However, employability skills are now one of the essential element of undergraduate studies and many students already have some employability skills, but not aware of this or how to use their skills when or to sell themselves to a prospective employer. However, sometimes some skills may be left out due to the assumption of prior knowledge and expertise of them.
Whilst universities provide opportunities for skills development, students need to take and use these opportunities. ” When asked whether employability skills should be developed through the course or their the endeavours, there was a strong response that this should be a partnership effort, with both student and university combining to achieve the same end. ” (Andrews and Russell, 2012). Institutions and students are both highly motivated to enhance employability and think of employability as a major importance.
Employability skills are highly valued by employers and are essential in the workplace. Every student comes into the unit with different skills and the role of the lecture or Unit Coordinator is to support their development by creating and teaching-learning opportunities. It is important that nowadays students are provided with a range of opportunities to learn these skills to make sure their successful transition from universities to their chosen post-university pathway. To support students in developing these skills universities are now responsible for creating a curriculum that includes teaching and learning these skills.