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Graduate work-readiness challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and the role of HRM

  • Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sabah


Purpose This paper focuses on graduate work-readiness challenges in three Asia Pacific economies (Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia), and the roles of three main stakeholders (government, employers and industry) in the process. The intention of the paper is to design a stakeholder-oriented HRM model to address the identified graduate work-readiness challenges. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative triangulation method comprising interviews and focus groups was used with participant samples for each country – Australia (19), Indonesia (19) and Malaysia (15). Stakeholder-oriented HRM theory underpins the conceptual framework for the paper. Findings All three countries are currently experiencing difficulties attracting graduates with the required portfolio of qualifications, skills and personal capabilities. The reported effects include: constraints on national economic growth, future production structures, and long-term socio-economic development. Based on a review of the work-readiness and stakeholder-oriented HRM theory literature, it is posited that graduate work-readiness challenges can be effectively addressed by HR professionals in partnership with other key stakeholders. Research limitations/implications The study sought the input of only three stakeholder groups for ascertaining graduate work readiness challenges, there is a strong case to include other groups including students/parents and secondary schools. Originality/value This study makes a contribution to the extant literature as it explores the role of HR professionals in relation to a multiple stakeholder strategy to address these challenges in the less-explored Asia Pacific region.
Graduate work-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region: Perspectives from
stakeholders and the role of HRM
Purpose This paper focuses on graduate work-readiness challenges in three Asia
Pacific economies (Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia), from the perspectives of three
stakeholders (government, employers and industry). A stakeholder-oriented HRM model
is proposed to assist the various stakeholder groups in addressing the challenges
Design/methodology/approach Qualitative methods were used, comprising
interviews and focus groups within. Stakeholder-oriented HRM theory underpins the
conceptual framework.
Findings – All three countries report difficulties attracting graduates with the requisite
portfolio of qualifications, skills and personal capabilities. The reported effects of these
challenges include: constraints on national economic growth, future production
structures and long-term socio-economic development. Based on a review of the work-
readiness and stakeholder-oriented HRM theory literature, it is posited that graduate
work-readiness challenges may be addressed by HR professionals in partnership with
other key stakeholders.
Social implications – Bridging the graduate skills gap between government, employers
and educational institutions is an important area in which HR professionals can
contribute by reducing the mismatch between demand and supply through influencing
and balancing the interests and needs of key stakeholders.
Originality/value –This study contributes to the extant literature on the topic of
graduate work readiness. It explores the potential roles of multiple stakeholders with
suggestions to address their challenges in selected Asia Pacific regions.
Key Words: Asia Pacific, higher education, human resource management, stakeholder-
oriented HRM, work-readiness
(We acknowledge funding support for this research from the Asia Business Centre,
Curtin University)
The number of Asia Pacific employers reporting difficulties due to a lack of qualified
talent has risen from 45 per cent in 2014 to 48 per cent in 2015. This is the second
highest increase since 2006 according to Manpower report (2015). Other regional
studies have revealed skills gaps in various occupations and industry sectors, notably in
relation to skilled trades, sales representatives, engineers, technicians, accountants,
information technology workers and managerial categories (Manpower, 2015;
Montague, 2013; Nankervis et al., 2012). Brown et al. (2011, p.46) suggest that ‘only
13% of university graduates’ from the twenty-eight low-wage Asian nations were
considered to have the required skills and competencies required for their jobs. This
notion of ‘suitability’, or underdeveloped work competencies, emphasises the desire for
graduates to possess a range of generic skills and attributes that ensure that they are
“ready” for the workforce (Casner-Lotto et al., 2006; Goldin, 2015).
There have been various terms used to define work-readiness, including: ‘graduate
skills’ and/or ‘graduate attributes’ (Barrie, 2004; Harvey et al., 1992; Yorke &
Harvey, 2005) ‘graduate-ness’, (UK Higher Education Quality Council, 1995, 1997;
Walsh & Kotzee, 2010), ‘graduate identity’ (Hinchliffe and Jolly, 2011; Holmes, 2013;),
‘graduate pre-professional identity’ (Jackson, 2016a) and ‘graduate capital’ (Tomlinson,
2017). This paper uses the term ‘graduate work-readiness’ as it encompasses both the
perceived needs of employers and the competencies desired by graduates, and it is
arguably broader than ‘job readiness’. ‘Graduates’ include both vocational and higher
education graduates.
Whilst some industry studies have reported gaps in the work-readiness skills required
by Asia Pacific graduates, few scholarly studies have been conducted in the region, and
even fewer have examined their specific skills deficiencies (Cameron et al., 2015;
Burgess et al., 2018). Thus, this paper analyses the nature and scope of graduate work-
readiness challenges (in terms of the critical ‘competencies’ required by graduates to
enter the workforce). It focuses on three Asia Pacific economies-namely, Malaysia,
Indonesia, and Australia. These countries are all part of the group referred to as
‘ASEAN plus six’, currently working towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic
Partnership (RCEP), which aims to integrate the existing free trade agreements between the
ASEAN bloc and its Plus Six partners (Wilson, 2016). Specifically, this study focuses on the
causes of work readiness challenges; and potential collaborative strategies to address
them, through the perspectives of three main stakeholder representative groups
(government, industry and educational institutions). These three inter-related economies
were chosen because they share the same region, face similar challenges with respect
to graduate work-readiness, and have taken different approaches to address those
challenges. Moreover, they are regional competitors and trading partners. Many
Malaysian and Indonesian students undertake their higher education studies in
Australian institutions, and some Australian universities have off-shore campuses in
Malaysia and Indonesia.
This study extends stakeholder theory concepts in relation to strategic human resource
management (SHRM) theory by proposing the use of multiple respondents (Boselie et
al., 2009; Guerci and Shani, 2013; Ulrich 2012), as a way of investigating the
effectiveness of HRM systems from the perspectives of multiple actors (in this case,
national governments, employers and educational systems). A new ‘inside-out’
paradigm (in contrast to Ulrich’s ‘outside-in’ perspective Ulrich 2012) is introduced in
this paper to clarify the analysis. Whereas Ulrich’s focus is on the need for HRM
professionals to incorporate external environmental (‘outside’) factors in their internal
organisational (‘in’) strategies, planning, systems and processes; this paper emphasises
the complementary imperative for HR professionals to contribute their accumulated
knowledge and experience from (‘inside’) to the external environmental graduate work-
readiness strategies, policies and processes (‘out’) of the three key stakeholders.
The concept of work-readiness (especially among graduates) has increasingly become
the subject of global discourse, with organisations attaching more importance to this key
labour market requirement (Goldin, 2015). Mason et al. (2006) describe work-readiness
as the ‘possession of the skills, knowledge, attitudes and commercial understanding
that will enable new graduates to make productive contributions to organisational
objectives soon after commencing employment (pp. 2-3). They further suggest that
numeracy, literacy, information technology, general communication, problem-solving and
teamwork; together with ‘learning how to learn’ and ‘understanding the world of work’
are key competencies for all new job applicants. The OECD’s definition is simpler and
more direct – namely, ‘the right skills mix not only for the present but also for the future
needs of dynamic labour markets(OECD, 2011, p.11). The OECD categorises these
competencies as foundation skills (literacy and numeracy), higher level cognitive
capabilities (problem-solving and analytical), interpersonal skills (communication),
teamwork and negotiation, technological flexibility, learning skills, creativity and
entrepreneurship (OECD 2011, pp. 14-15). Definitions outlined by Connell and Burgess
(2006, p. 499) are compatible with these competencies, but also emphasise the
importance of competence ‘portability’ and ‘transferability’, allowing graduates to easily
move within or between industry sectors. Following an extensive study of
undergraduate business programs in Australian and UK universities, Jackson and
Chapman (2012, pp.548-551) compiled a comprehensive taxonomy of graduate
competencies. These include skills such as business principles, core business skills,
critical thinking skills, problem-solving, and many more that are considered to be
‘requisite for successfully and innovatively applying disciplinary knowledge in the
workplace’ (p. 541).
While most of the competencies identified by Jackson and Chapman (2012) are
regarded as what is commonly referred to as soft skills, Nilsson (2010) maintains that
work-ready competencies represent ‘both hard and soft skills, including formal
competencies, interpersonal skills and personal characteristics’ (p. 540). Mitchell et al.
(2010), in common with Jackson and Chapman (2012), consider specific work-
readiness skills to be general communication, oral communication, written
communication, general ethics, teamwork, diversity, time management, problem-solving,
customer service, leadership and ‘business etiquette’ (pp. 48-9). Andrew and Higson
(2008) also propose the need for graduates to possess professionalism, reliability;
ability to cope with uncertainty and be able to work under pressure as well as skills in
planning and strategic thinking; written and verbal communication, self-confidence,
good self-management and have a willingness to learn (p. 413). Di Gropello et al.
(2011) further list job-specific skills plus behavioural skills, referring to the need for client
orientation, teamwork, innovation, information technology and managerial competencies
(services); negotiation, and language skills, amongst others (pp. 6-10).
Whilst debates continue in the extant literature, there is no universal template for
determining exactly what and which types of ‘work-readiness’ skills are essential for
specific graduate careers (Barrie et al., 2009). Jackson (2016a) contends that the
conceptualisation of graduate work-readiness is unrealistic, arguing that it should
extend beyond the skills-list approach, which is too narrow and does not fully capture
the complexity of the concept. Jackson (2016b) further maintains that, graduate work-
readiness should encompass the construction of a pre-professional identity (PPI), or an
understanding of and connection with the skills, qualities, conduct, culture and ideology
of a graduate’s intended profession. Currently, student identity and graduate attributes
are perceived as quite separate (Daniels and Brooker, 2013), Trede et al’s (2012) study
links aspects of PPI formation in vocational and higher education with work-readiness
among graduates, identifying ‘learning professional roles, understanding workplace
cultures, commencing the professional socialisation process and educating towards
citizenship’ (p. 365) as key areas of overlap. Daniels and Brooker (2013) claim that, to
address the gap between graduate attributes and student identity, efforts are needed to
reframe graduate identity as shaped by graduate attributes in terms of an ongoing
identity development occurring throughout graduates’ educational experience.
To date discussion suggests that the “required” competencies are contested, that they
change over time and that they are context-specific (occupation, industry and country).A
key theme of this paper is that effective approaches to the development of graduate
work-readiness competencies, in both theory and practice, are heavily reliant on
collaborative strategies which integrate the actions of HR professionals in relation to
the three key stakeholders (namely, governments, employers and educational
institutions). Hence, the following section briefly discusses stakeholder-oriented HRM
theory, before considering the role of HR professionals in facilitating integrated
stakeholder strategies.
Stakeholder-oriented HRM theory
An emphasis on the importance of a stakeholder approach to human resource
management can be traced to Beer et al’s (1984) Harvard Model, Paauwe’s (2004)
Sustainable HRM Model framework, and more recently, the Strategy Scan Model
(Boselie, 2010). All these models incorporate the characteristics of general stakeholder
theory (Donaldson and Preston, 1995), including the recognition of ‘similar and diverse
interests’ and the ‘relative salience’ of particular internal and external stakeholders; the
need to balance and manage stakeholder conflict, and attempt to create ‘shared value’;
and finally, the importance of ensuring effective stakeholder ‘engagement’ (Buchholz
and Rosenthal 2005; Mahoney, 2012; Reynolds et al. 2006). More recent literature on
stakeholder-oriented HRM theory (for example, Ferrary 2009; Guerci and Shani 2013,
2014; Hemans 2010) accepts the characteristics of general stakeholder theory, and
builds on seminal research on stakeholders and HRM by exploring the influences of
internal and external stakeholders on individual organisations or particular countries.
This differs from much of the HRM research which analyses the roles of stakeholders
aiming to resolve internal HRM challenges. Mitchell et al (1997, 882) examined power,
urgency and legitimacy in their quest to determine ‘The Principle of Who or What Really
Counts’ in stakeholder relationships. They concluded that “stakeholder theory must
account for power and urgency as well as legitimacy” (Mitchell et al, 1997, 882) and we
argue that all three groups identified here could legitimately make stakeholder claims.
In relation to graduate work-readiness challenges, three primary stakeholder groups are
readily identifiable which are: governments, which regulate the labour market and set
education strategy and policy guidelines, maintain appropriate infrastructures, and
establish monitoring systems; employers, who conduct analyses of their overall work
and job requirements, and manage subsequent employee performance; and vocational
and higher education (VE and HE) providers, which determine desirable graduate
outcomes, design syllabi which reflect these, and formally evaluate the achievement of
such outcomes. Graduates (and their families) may be considered secondary
stakeholders, as they are consumers of pre-determined government-industry-education
system ‘products’.
To date, developments in stakeholder-oriented HRM theory have been mainly focused
on what Ulrich et al (2012) describe as ‘outside-in’ strategies. This refers to the
application of HR roles such as strategic positioner, capability builder, change
champion, HR innovator and integrator designed to enhance the integration of HR
functions and practices within organisations in alignment with external environmental
contexts. Such contexts comprise dynamic government and industry goals and
objectives, labour market characteristics, and desired organisational outcomes. Whilst
this is a key imperative for HRM professionals and their organisations, it can also be
argued that a complementary ‘inside-out’ paradigm is also necessary, especially with
respect to the graduate work-readiness challenges reported in this paper. This ‘inside-
out’ paradigm suggests that HRM professionals not only need to design their internal
strategies and systems to adapt to external influences and pressures, but that they can
also contribute to their organisation’s effectiveness by facilitating collaborative strategies
with other stakeholders. For example, by developing mutually-beneficial relationships
with relevant governments and educational institutions, HR professionals can ensure
that human capital requirements are met, especially with respect to the work-readiness
of their new graduate employees. Arguably, this new HRM imperative encompasses
organisational self-interest and broader labour market and social priorities, utilising
similar HR roles to those proposed by Ulrich (2012) but with an external, rather than an
internal, emphasis.
Accordingly, this paper builds on stakeholder-oriented HRM theory to incorporate the
contributions that HR professionals can potentially make to enhance government,
industry, and educational institutions’ strategies and policies to address the graduate
work-readiness challenges, as part of an integrated multiple stakeholder approach. As
the experts in human resource planning, labour market analysis, work and job design,
talent attraction and selection, training and development, career planning, rewards and
benefits, it is proposed that HR professionals are well-positioned to engage in such
collaborative endeavours.
Research methodology
An extensive literature review comprised scholarly articles, government and industry
reports, and media articles. Information was sought on broad local labour market
characteristics; relevant government labour legislation and policies, industry structures
and occupational skills gaps; and the structure and nature of vocational and higher
education systems in the three selected countries. The findings indicated that most
studies regarding work-readiness challenges in the three countries focused on one or
other of the key stakeholders, with few considering all of them. A research scoping
workshop comprising co-researchers in each country was convened in late 2015 to
analyse the similarities and differences in the literature and preliminary data. Significant
gaps in the literature were observed in terms of the reported nature and causes of
graduate work challenges, and the various strategies employed by governments,
employers, and educational institutions to address them. Thus, the research questions
developed for this study were:
R1. What is the nature and cause of the graduate work-readiness challenges
reported by governments, employers and educational institutions across the
three selected economies?
R2. What collaborative strategies and approaches are recommended by
participating stakeholders in these countries to address these challenges?
The authors utilised a multiple case design comprising open-ended, one-on-one semi-
structured interviews with participants based on the research questions, as well as
focus groups conducted in Australia. For cultural reasons, focus groups were not used
in Indonesia or Malaysia. Data from individual interviews and focus groups were
triangulated for the purposes of data completeness and confirmation (Adami 2005;
Halcomb and Andrew 2005), and to add breadth and depth to the findings (Lambert and
Loiselle, 2008). The participant interviews held in Malaysia and Indonesia were
conducted in the local languages (Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia), and then
back-translated by the bilingual co-researchers. In Australia, nterviews were conducted
in Perth and Sydney and focus group discussions were held in Melbourne, during March
and April 2016. Following ethics approval from the lead university, all participants were
provided with pre-interview/focus group information and consent forms.
In order to yield a sample that allowed for meaningful comparison between stakeholder
perceptions, this study employed a mixed method sampling strategy. This type of
sampling technique combines probability and purposive sampling to generate datasets
that include deep and broad information (Teddlie and Yu, 2007). The participants were
classified into three distinct groups - employers (industry personnel), educational
institutions (VE & HE), and government (policy experts). In total, fifty-three participants
were purposively sampled from the three main stakeholder groups (employers,
government and educational institutions). This comprised seven interview participants in
Sydney (4) and Perth (3) and twelve participants from the focus groups in Melbourne.
The number of participants for Malaysia and Indonesia was fifteen and nineteen
respectively. Purposive sampling relied upon unique sampling and snowball sampling
(Miles and Huberman, 1994). All participants were asked to refer other experts in their
domain, so as to identify participants with rich information. Participants were selected
based on their position and experience in academia, industry and government. Care
was taken to include participants from academia (HE and VE), who had more than ten
years’ experience and who were aware of work-readiness issues. The participants from
employer/industry groups comprised CEOs, senior managers and HR managers with
broad knowledge of staffing challenges; and almost all the government participants
were involved in policy-making concerning graduate recruitment and youth employment.
All interviews and focus groups were recorded and transcribed, and thematic qualitative
analysis of the key themes was conducted in order to answer the research questions.
Tables 1 provides interviewee information by sector
Insert Table 1 here
Data analysis
Given the research questions, it was considered important to categorise each
stakeholder (employers, education institutes or government) as a case (unit of analysis)
in a particular country, to strengthen the research findings by replicating the response
patterns. Such a process supports the robustness of the findings (Yin, 2013). Data
generated were analysed in two stages according to key themes categorised from the
case analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2013; Hesse-Biber and Leavy, 2011). The researchers
examined the case of each country on a stakeholder basis and used their experiences,
insights and descriptions through words and written text to find patterns and themes in
the meaning as per the within-case analysis of that country (Creswell, 2013). Next,
cases from all the sample countries were compared in relation to each stakeholder’s
experiences and insights with the intention of finding patterns in the meaning - referred
to as cross–case analysis or cross-case synthesis (Creswell, 2013; Yin, 2013).
Transcriptions of the recorded in-depth interviews and focus group discussions were
analysed, followed by open coding and axial coding through close examination of the
data; then aggregate competence themes were sought and subsequently reviewed. For
reporting purposes these themes were defined and named. Power quotes are also
presented, in following qualitative research conventions to provide additional data to
support analysis in relation to the research questions, see Table 4 (Pratt, 2008).
This section discusses the various challenges reported by stakeholders and is followed
by analysis of the causes, collaborative strategies and approaches intended to
overcome the reported graduate work- readiness challenges.
Graduate work-readiness challenges
The findings revealed both similarities and differences in the work-readiness challenges.
In all three countries, concerns were expressed regarding the quality of graduates, in
terms of their desired competencies. All the stakeholders were conscious that, in order
to maximise productivity, it is important for them to equip future graduates with the right
skills, attributes and abilities (competencies).
Table 3 outlines the ‘competencies’ considered important from the perspective of all the
stakeholders. These themes (competencies) were categorised and ranked on the basis
of thematic analysis of data with the help of coding.
Table 2:
Work-readiness competencies posing challenges for stakeholders in Australia, Indonesia
and Malaysia
Insert Table 2 here
Table 2 reveals that, for the Australian stakeholders, self-management, effective
communication, team work and collaboration as well as critical/analytical skills were
perceived as being key graduate deficits. For Indonesia, challenges included a lack of
critical/analytical skills, poor English, decision making ability and interpersonal skills.
Challenges indicated by Malaysian stakeholders included poor attitudes, English skills
and a lack of confidence. For all three countries and all stakeholders critical/analytical
thinking, problem solving and decision making were identified as important and
recurring themes related to graduate work readiness challenges.
The Malaysian government participants ranked attitudinal and confidence issues as
having ‘high’ importance, while employers were more concerned about graduates
English language competencies. Respondents from educational institutions considered
graduates lacked soft skills, as well the capacity to work independently. These findings
are consistent with previous Malaysian studies, which observed that graduates lack
critical thinking and communication skills, language proficiency (especially English);
‘positive character’, suitable attitudes; problem solving and a lack of skills and
knowledge essential for success in the twenty-first century (Chew, 2013; Hanapi and
Nordin, 2014; Ismail, 201; MoHE, 2012).
The following were typical employer comments:
“To me if I hire somebody, I’ll look to see whether he or she has the attitude and
ability to fit in the organisation, because everything else is the same. Certificate
is the same but the right attitude is the one thing that differentiates A and B.”
Thus, while government participants ranked attitudinal issues as of ‘high’ importance,
industry representatives were more concerned about graduates’ English language skills,
while vocational and higher educational respondents considered graduates often lacked
soft skills.
Indonesian stakeholders observed that graduate work-readiness challenges are
associated with the growing skills gaps and mismatches between employer
requirements and perceived graduate competencies. The quality of both vocational and
higher education graduates’ technical and work-readiness competencies were the main
reported skill problems perceived by Indonesian participants. These findings are
consistent with previous research conducted in Indonesia (Allen 2016; ICEF, 2015;
OECD/ADB, 2015; WEF, 2016). Critical and analytical thinking, problem solving,
decision-making, being organised, taking responsibility, effective communication, lack of
commitment/involvement, team-work) and collaborative skills, were some of the major
work-readiness deficits reported which pose significant challenges for the stakeholders
An employer stakeholder made the following observation about a ‘fresh crop’ of
“Actually, they’re not given the practical skills as much as they might be...there
needs to be a stronger emphasis on applied learning and generic skills that go
with do need to teach administrative and management (organisation)
skills, amend the curriculum, or they’re just lost”.
Australian stakeholders observed that Australian HE and VE systems do not sufficiently
provide graduates with the work-readiness skills necessary for the contemporary
workplace. Self-management, communication (written and expression), team-work,
creative and innovative skills, cognitive skills, and cultural adaptability, were the main
work-readiness deficits reported by many of the stakeholders.
In addition, employer stakeholders reported difficulties with graduate skills in the areas
of critical thinking, decision-making, showing initiative, attitude, resilience, and lack of
adaptability, One employer stakeholder was especially critical of graduates’ written
communication skills:
“Most often graduates write in passive voice they tend to write in very long
flowery, language, and sentences would be so long that by the time you get to
the end you couldn’t remember what you read before”.
Government stakeholders also referred to the lack of apparent ability to work well in a
team and the absence of critical and problem-solving skills. Education stakeholders
reported presentation skills as a major deficiency, followed by written communication,
collaboration, decision-making and self-management skills (inability to organise work).
These concerns generally reflect what has previously been reported, suggesting that
new graduates are not sufficiently prepared for self-management, effective
communication, teamwork and negotiation, reportedly important requirements for the
Australian workforce (Di Gropello et al. 2011; GCA, 2014; Jackson and Chapman, 2012;
Knoch et al., 2016; Moore and Morton, 2017; Norton, 2014).
Work readiness challenges
Malaysian stakeholders observed that the inadequacy of industry training and
development systems, unrealistic expectations of graduates, and growth in the numbers
of graduates, were key causes of the deficiencies they identified, stating that they pose
significant challenges for graduates’ work-readiness in their country. Stakeholders from
all three groups expressed their concern about the lack of linkages between industry
and educational institutions, and the urgent need to build partnerships to enhance
graduates’ work-readiness skills. The education stakeholders maintain that the main
cause of the challenges concerns a lack of suitable employment opportunities;
graduates’ unwillingness to leave their local areas, unrealistic salary expectations;
graduates’ negative attitudes; and the relevance of current vocational and higher
education programs. The unwillingness of graduates to relocate (especially from rural to
urban areas) was raised as an important issue only by the Malaysian stakeholders.
Most Indonesian stakeholders argued that the causes of the work readiness challenges
were gaps between the practical skills taught in technical and vocational education and
training, and the demands of the labour market; the lack of strong linkages between the
educational institutions and their industry counterparts; inadequate student internships,
work placements and/or quality apprenticeships. Concerns about the Indonesian
technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system were also expressed, in
particular its supply (rather than demand) driven strategy; its fragmented and
inconsistent quality across provinces, between public and private providers; and
importantly, its low status as perceived by employers, students and their parents. All of
the issues raised resonated with existing research (OECD/ADB 2015, p.34-35). Similar
concerns were expressed about Indonesia’s higher education system, with respect to its
overly theoretical curriculum, lack of industry associations, lecturers’ lack of work
experience, outdated pedagogies, relatively poor graduate employment outcomes.
Whilst there were complaints about TVET and higher education systems in all three
countries, the strongest criticisms were expressed by the Indonesian stakeholders
interviewed. A lack of effective communication between the key stakeholders was
perceived as the core of the problem, as illustrated by a a government participant:
“I think it is probably because of the lack of industry engagement with the
learning institutions, because if there’s more collaboration, then the graduates
will be learning what industry actually needs and there won’t be any issues of
mismatch, right?”
Some Australian stakeholders reported that employers often have unclear skill
expectations of new graduates, whereas graduates consistently rank themselves as
work-ready. In several key areas (oral and written communication, critical thinking and
creativity), graduates are more than twice as likely as employers to believe that they are
well-prepared for work (Howieson et al., 2014). As one employer observed:
“I think it’s the digital disruption. Graduates constantly want to read information,
want to be on their digital devices...texting is obviously a whole other
language...the English language might be replaced by text language”.
Stakeholders also reported that some employers may be biased against young
employees, and not provide sufficient opportunities for them to grow. It was further
suggested that some employers neglect to offer graduate training schemes considering
work integrated learning (WIL), internships, and apprenticeships as a burden, rather
than treating them as opportunities to impart work-readiness skills to new graduates as
one employer stakeholder stated:
“We need to recognise more readily that no-one comes prepared, and there is
an investment that needs to be made. If you train someone in your own ways,
your own procedures, your own values, your expectations of success, you can
get very productive employees”.
With respect to the educational institutions, many higher education participants perceive
that traditional models of teaching fail to integrate theory and practice. Outdated
pedagogies, a lack of funding and resources for organising and supervising student
internships; together with a lack of training in soft skills, and lecturers’ administrative
burdens were felt to contribute to undeveloped graduate work-readiness.
Stakeholder strategies
Referring to the intention to revise the ‘Stakeholder –oriented HRM Model’ alongside the
‘inside-out’ paradigm, stakeholders were asked how their HR professionals/ HRM
departments may be able to contribute to strategies to address graduate work-
readiness challenges. The reasons proposed for current graduate work-readiness
problems were attributed to weaknesses in industry training and development systems
in Malaysia, along with unrealistic expectations held by employers, and poor
associations between educational institutions and employers. In Indonesia, identified
causes included: poor linkages between higher education and employers; failing of the
VET system in terms of skill development; and an absence of internships and job
placement programs. In Australia, the identified problems included outdated pedagogy
in universities, inadequate investment in induction and training programs by employers,
and insufficient information concerning what skills and attributes employers seek from
graduates. In terms of specifying collaborative strategies to address the challenges of
graduate work-readiness, the stakeholders recommended dialogue and information
exchanges, the development and re-evaluation of work experience programs,
strengthening and organising the networks of intermediaries linking graduates with the
labour market, and developing industry skills councils to identify and modify skill
requirements on a sector basis.
Table 3 categorises the key strategies/themes proposed:
Table 3:
Stakeholders potential roles in meeting graduate work-readiness challenges
Insert Table 3 here
Many of the collaborative strategies recommended by government and educator
stakeholders resonate with existing research on the topic. However, some more
innovative recommendations also emerged. For example, almost all the stakeholders
from the three countries emphasised the need for an open dialogue, government
funding and support to boost research and development by universities with the
intention of exploring new ideas, creating feedback loops between stakeholders on
industry trends and graduate skills requirements, thus helping educators to develop
evidence-based graduate programs. The collaborative strategies proposed by Australian
stakeholders centred around the themes of exposing graduates early to recruitment
practices, so that they can clear the ‘first hurdle’ of entering the industry or public sector;
providing scholarships for doctorate programs in industry; and involving student unions
in the process of designing, providing, and monitoring VE, HE and work experience
programs to inculcate greater engagement.
The Indonesian and Malaysian government and education stakeholders recommended
programs to help prospective graduates become more aware of recognition of prior
learning (RPL) systems, and also to improve RPL mechanisms through embracing the
‘Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)’ under the Malaysian Qualifications
Agency (MQA), and ‘RPL under the Indonesian Qualification Framework. Australian
educators also emphasised the need to promote international exchange programs, as
advocated by Crossman and Clarke (2010), as a way of forging networks; creating
opportunities for experiential learning for graduates, language acquisition and the
development of soft skills related to cultural understanding.
Government and employer stakeholders from all three countries recommended other
collaborative strategies, such as establishing a labour market intermediary network with
the intention of strengthening links between the supply and demand sides of the labour
market; developing sector skills councils (SSC), informing graduates about courses
and involving industry more in curriculum development and emphasising demand-led
approaches in industry to recruit from priority client groups which they might never have
recruited from before. Other suggestions from Malaysian stakeholders include:
establishing industry centres of excellence (ICoEs) in collaboration with industry to
boost graduate-work readiness. Indonesian stakeholders emphasised the need for
policies to provide grants and special incentives for organisations (e.g., reduce taxes)
that have effective collaboration with universities; while Australian stakeholders
recommended boosting the employers’ role in framing National Work Integrated (WIL)
strategies (PhillipsKPA, 2014), and ‘Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)’, to
facilitate the transfer of expertise and research findings.
The following represents observations from a Malaysian employer:
“Structured Internship Programmes can help fresh graduates. So what they do
is, actually they place and train graduates and provide training to them maybe
through organisations like TalentCorp”.
This paper extends the perspective of traditional stakeholder-oriented HRM suggesting
that HR professionals can have important roles in influencing and balancing the
interests and goals (Fontaine et al., 2006) of a range of external stakeholders
(governments, employers, education systems). The study developed a model illustrating
an ‘inside-out’ paradigm, extending HRM professionals’ roles with regard to their
relationships with governments, industry and educational institutions. The model
suggests that, the interaction and collaborative efforts of HRM professionals within
government (HRD ministries, departments of education and labour, public sector HR
professionals), employers (HR professionals and HRM departments), and educational
institutions (training and placement coordinators, HR academics), may help to enhance
graduate work-readiness skills, attributes and competencies with associated benefits for
all stakeholders - including the graduates. Drawing from Ulrich’s (2012) global study, the
proposed roles of HRM professionals within this proposed stakeholder-oriented HRM
model, can be categorised as policy influencer (government), catalyst (employers)
and ‘facilitator’ (educational institutions).
With respect to their role as a ‘policy influencer’, HRM professionals from government
may be involved with their counterparts in industry and educational institutions, to
formulate and improve policies, streamline quality assurance practices, and prepare
reports on the work-readiness challenges in specific industry and education sectors.
The collaborative strategies suggested by stakeholders, such as establishing sector
skills councils, industry centres of excellence and knowledge transfer partnerships,
highlight the important role that can be demonstrated by government HRM
professionals to enhance policy coherence through a ‘whole-of-government’ approach.
These policies are likely to influence and strengthen interactions between the workplace
and education and training to enhance graduate work-readiness.
HR professionals within industry may assume the role of ‘catalysts’, enhancing the
work-readiness of graduates through more substantial engagement with both
government and educational stakeholders. As the experts in human resource planning,
job and work design, learning and development and HRM program evaluation, industry
HR professionals could work with senior managers and supervisors in their
organisations to ensure that graduate work-readiness expectations are clearly
articulated, in collaboration with the relevant educational institutions where they have
established effective partnerships. Industry HR professionals might assist their
counterparts in educational institutions through consultations, mentoring, feedback,
guest lectures, designing curriculum, and through providing work experience
opportunities for graduates. Supportive processes championed by industry HR
professionals for their government counterparts may include, extending their expertise
in improving and designing components of national articulation and accreditation
strategies. Similarly, HR professionals in educational institutions could become active
‘facilitators’, providing support to industry counterparts, and at the same time assisting
government HR professionals in quality assurance and program reviews and developing
transition mechanisms. This may occur through government funded initiatives,
designing robust RPL systems and apprenticeship/WIL programs; and participating in
institutional course and program development committees.
Figure 1 below outlines our conceptualisation of a revised stakeholder-oriented HRM
model, proposed as a framework for addressing graduate work-readiness challenges. In
this model, HR professionals are perceived as potential mediators of the relationships
between governments, other employers, and education systems assisting progress
towards the mutual development of constructive solutions.
Figure 1 Proposed Stakeholder Framework to enhance Graduate Work Readiness
Insert Figure 1 here
This paper proposes a stakeholder-oriented HRM model involving HR professionals
from three main stakeholders; government, industry and educational institutes, in an
‘inside-out’ strategy to address the identified graduate work-readiness challenges. HR
professionals from stakeholder groups will need to adopt a more proactive approach to
resolve the challenges associated with graduate work readiness. Such an approach
may involve them using ‘policy-influencer’, ‘catalyst’ and ‘facilitator’ roles to progress
and mediate the relationships between industry, government and educational
stakeholders, to address the identified graduate work-readiness challenges. The
contributions of this paper are threefold. Firstly, it presents new evidence on graduate
work readiness challenges. Secondly, it approaches stakeholder-oriented HRM theory
from a new perspective and thirdly, it provides new directions and opportunities for HR
professionals within the realm of their roles in government, industry and educational
institutions towards the enhancement of graduate work readiness.
This study contributes to current understanding of graduate work-readiness challenges
pertaining to three Asia Pacific economies (Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia). It is
proposed to augment the role of HRM professionals as policy-influencers’, ‘catalysts’
and ‘facilitators’ in concert with the three main stakeholders to address the identified
graduate work-readiness challenges in these countries. This study also highlights the
responsibilities of HRM professionals in educational and government institutions
towards developing and implementing new and more innovative collaborative strategies
to enhance the work-readiness of graduates.
A limitation of this paper is its focus on three stakeholder groups, the number or
stakeholders interviewed and the number of countries included in the study. Future
research might involve other groups, including graduates, parents, and schools, more
countries and more stakeholder groups. A further limitation is that participants held
senior positions across the three stakeholder groups, and whilst the sample was chosen
to reflect broad graduate work-readiness challenges, future research might include from
line manager participants. Thus, although this study proposes an active role for HRM
professionals towards addressing graduate work readiness issues, for future research
on the topic it would be beneficial to determine specifically how this collaboration may
be further explored and implemented.
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Appendix 1:
Table1: Stakeholder participants by sector
Country Number of stakeholder participants by sector Tota
Malaysia 4 7 2 2 15
3 2 7 7 19
Australia 5 5 5 4 19
Total 12 14 14 13 53
Table 2:
Work-readiness competency challenges for stakeholders in Malaysia, Indonesia and
StakeholdersMalaysia Indonesia Australia
Government Attitude (4),
Confidence (4)
Critical thinking (3),
English command
(3), Experience (3),
Flexibility (3),
Knowledge (2), Multi-
tasking skills (2),
Problem-solving (2),
Soft skills (2), Survival
skills (1), Strong will
(1), Team work (1),
Willingness (1)
thinking/Problem solving
(2), Command over English
(2), Decision-Making skills
Inter-personal relations (2),
Self-Management (1),
Engagement (1),
Commitment/Involvement (1),
Initiative (1), Time
Management (1)
Team work /Collaborative skills
(3), Self-management (3),
thinking/Problem solving (3),
Culture/Organisation -Fit (2),
Decision-making (2),
Communication(Expression) (2),
Initiative (2), Communication
(Writing skills) (1),
Accountability (1), IT skills (1),
Interpersonal (1), Ethics (1),
Flexible (1), Value system (1)
Employers Good command of
English (3),
Confidence (3), Strong
willed (2), Attitude (2),
Motivation (2),
Experience (2),
Critical thinking (2)
Organised (3), Responsible
(3), Critical/Analytical
thinking/Problem solving
(3), Interpersonal skills (3)
Effective communication (2),
IT skills (1),
Involvement/Commitment (1),
Motivation (1), Business
Self-management (4),
Communication (Writing skills
& expression) (3), Team work
(3), Critical/
Analytical thinking/Problem
solving (3), Culture/Organisation
-Fit (3), Leadership (3), Decision
-making (2), Professionalism (2),
acumen (1), Numerical
abilities (1), Negotiation skills
(1) Emotional Intelligence (1),
Innovation/creativity (1), Multi-
tasking skills (1), Team-work
(1), Presentation(grooming)
(1), Initiative (1), Taking
pressure (1)
Prior exposure to work (2),
Adaptability (1), Courageous (1),
Diversity Management (1),
Attitude (1), Resilience (1),
Sustainability (1)
Education Soft skills (3),
Independent (3),
Attitude (3),
Hardworking (3),
Creativity (3),
Innovative (3),
Entrepreneur skills (2)
performance (2), Self-
Management (2),
Critical thinking (2),
Confidence (2),
Communication (3),
Persistence (1),
Sincerity (1),
Entrepreneurial skills
thinking/Problem solving
(5), Low Self-esteem (4),
Effective communication (3),
Time-Management (3),
Willingness to learn (2),
Organised (2), Collaborative
skills (2), Adaptability (2),
Presentation(grooming) (2),
Self-Management (2),
Commitment/Involvement (2),
Initiative (2), Taking pressure
Communication (Writing skills
& expression) (4), Team work
Decision -making (2),
Leadership skills (1), IT skills
(1), Sensitivity (1), Accountability
Diplomatic skills (1),
Administrative skills (1),
Proactive (1), Creativity (1),
Networking skills (1), Passion
(1), Articulation (1),
Sustainability (1) , Organised (1)
, Negotiation skills (1) ,Strategic
thinking (1)
*Note: Competencies appear in order of highest frequencies (4 is highest and 1 is lowest)
based on thematic coding
Table 3:
Stakeholders perspectives on their roles in meeting graduate work-readiness challenges
Government/Educators Government/Employers Employers/Educators
Open dialogue Open dialogue Active involvement of industry in
program delivery
Exposure of recruitment
processes Establishing Sector Skills Councils
(SSC) Industry HR personnel on
academic board
Government funding/support Establishing labour market
intermediary network Modular’ approach
Graduates awareness of
various opportunities Establishing Industry Centres of
Excellence (ICoEs) Expansion and awareness of
work experience opportunities
among the student population
(i.e., WIL)
Continuous program reviews National Work Integrated Learning
(WIL) strategies Following a ‘competency-based’
Designing tailor-made/
evidence-based graduate
Demand led approaches Recognition awards for
Promoting international
exchange programs Grants/special incentives for
organisations Marketing graduate skills
Scholarships for doctoral Graduate support mechanisms Providing information to
programs in industry students
Quality assurance Developing policies for R&D
collaborations Industry and alumni mentors
supporting graduate students
Awareness and robustness of
recognition of prior
learning(RPL) mechanisms
Supporting industry partnerships Informing educators about
specific learning requirements of
Feedback to universities on
industry trends and graduate
skill requirements
Supporting Knowledge transfer
partnerships (KTP) Feedback to universities on
industry trends and skills
requirement of graduates
Liaison with student unions Design of policies, skills training
and work experience programs In-organisation upskilling of of
Position papers on
apprenticeship systems Industry information reports/
events/seminars Exposure of recruitment
Producing HR data Advisory councils/ Government
policy reviews Appointing industry adjunct
professors, university advisors/
industry fellows
Appendix 2:
Figure 1: Proposed Stakeholder Framework for Addressing Graduate Work
... Employers' diverse views and expectations in this sense have been examined qualitatively and quantitatively by surveying employers themselves (e.g. McMurray et al., 2016), studying multiple perspectives, including students, graduates, staff, employers and government representatives Verma et al., 2018;Wickramasinghe & Perera, 2010;Yan et al. 2004), and analysing the content of job advertisements (Brunner et al., 2018). A study with 71 employers in the UK showed that the following factors were rated most important in graduate recruitment: personal attitudes, employability skills, relevant work experience and degree result (McMurray et al., 2016). ...
... UNESCO (2012) identifies Asian graduate employability as a critical issue due to increased graduate unemployment and employer dissatisfaction with the quality of graduates. A comparative study involving employers, education providers and governments across three Asia Pacific economies, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, found that employers in these three countries face challenges in attracting graduates with the expected professional portfolio, combining qualifications, generic skills and personal capabilities (Verma et al., 2018). There is often a discrepancy between employer and graduate perceptions of key employability attributes (Jones, 2014). ...
... At a more pragmatic level, the pressure to improve graduate employability has to some extent emerged from a well-documented evidence base about unsatisfactory graduate employment outcomes across many countries in the world UNESCO, 2012;Verma et al., 2018). In a broader sense, unsatisfactory graduate employment outcomes are in part due to the mismatch between the supply and demand factors of the labour market. ...
This chapter summarises the main themes emerging from the study reported in this book and identifies recommendations essential for strategic planning, policies and practices to enhance graduate employability. It brings together key findings about the labour market needs and skills gaps encountered by employers in Vietnam. It synthesises the practices, possibilities and challenges in terms of the design and implementation of curriculum to support graduates’ career capacity building. It also summarises graduates’ experiences and perspectives on employability knowledge, skills and attributes and their strategies to navigate the labour market. In light of the findings from the empirical study and prominent trends from the literature on graduate employability in Vietnam and internationally, the chapter identifies seven key recommendations for enhancing graduate employability and career capacity building. Each recommendation summarises specific strategies and approaches for related stakeholders to consider in working towards a more coordinated, coherent and consistent framework to support graduates in the development of knowledge, skills and attributes to be work-ready.
... Employers' diverse views and expectations in this sense have been examined qualitatively and quantitatively by surveying employers themselves (e.g. McMurray et al., 2016), studying multiple perspectives, including students, graduates, staff, employers and government representatives Verma et al., 2018;Wickramasinghe & Perera, 2010;Yan et al. 2004), and analysing the content of job advertisements (Brunner et al., 2018). A study with 71 employers in the UK showed that the following factors were rated most important in graduate recruitment: personal attitudes, employability skills, relevant work experience and degree result (McMurray et al., 2016). ...
... UNESCO (2012) identifies Asian graduate employability as a critical issue due to increased graduate unemployment and employer dissatisfaction with the quality of graduates. A comparative study involving employers, education providers and governments across three Asia Pacific economies, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, found that employers in these three countries face challenges in attracting graduates with the expected professional portfolio, combining qualifications, generic skills and personal capabilities (Verma et al., 2018). There is often a discrepancy between employer and graduate perceptions of key employability attributes (Jones, 2014). ...
... At a more pragmatic level, the pressure to improve graduate employability has to some extent emerged from a well-documented evidence base about unsatisfactory graduate employment outcomes across many countries in the world UNESCO, 2012;Verma et al., 2018). In a broader sense, unsatisfactory graduate employment outcomes are in part due to the mismatch between the supply and demand factors of the labour market. ...
This chapter discusses the broader socio-cultural economic and educational context of Vietnam, which shapes the demand for graduate employability in the country. It begins by analysing the impacts of Đổi mới policy on graduate employability. It then proceeds with a critical review of existing research on core issues related to graduate employability and its development in Vietnam. The chapter critically depicts issues of imbalance and mismatch in labour supply and demand, the relationship between higher education curriculum and graduates’ work readiness, professional skills development, and opportunities and barriers faced by graduates navigating the Vietnamese labour market.KeywordsGraduate employabilityHigher educationWork readinessProfessional skills developmentLabour market demandsLabour market supplyEmployment outcomes
... MSDM meneliti kekuasaan, urgensi dan legitimasi dalam pencarian dan menentukan "prinsip siapa atau apa yang benar-benar penting" dalam hubungan pemangku kepentingan. MSDM menyimpulkan bahwa teori pemangku kepentingan harus memperhitungkan kekuatan dan urgensi serta legitimasi organisasi (Verma, et al., 2018). MSDM menciptakan keberlangsungan organisasi dan mensinergikan dengan norma kerja atau etika. ...
... The strong collaboration, engagement and actions are significantly important for each party to assist the graduate work readiness. Figure: Stakeholders triple helix framework for addressing graduate work readiness (Verma, et al., 2017) The problems with workforce preparedness in the Asia Pacific area serve as a reminder that addressing the wicked problem of skill gaps and work-readiness in the region is likely to be far more successful with a strong governmental emphasis on stakeholder involvement. As a result of the fact that work preparedness is a global issue as well, nations in the region must take an internal and external perspective in order to collaborate with stakeholders to promote regional sustainable development. ...
Conference Paper
ABSTRAK: Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia (PPPM 2013-2025) di bawah Anjakan ke-5 telah menggariskan fokus kerja utama sistem pendidikan Malaysia ialah memastikan pemimpin berprestasi tinggi ditempatkan di setiap sekolah. Sehubungan dengan itu, Institut Aminuddin Baki, Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia telah dipertanggungjawabkan untuk melaksanakan Kursus Kajian Tindakan untuk meningkatkan kemahiran penyelidikan dan inovasi dalam kalangan pemimpin sekolah bagi tujuan membudayakan kajian tindakan dalam membuat penambahbaikan instruksional secara sistematik untuk melonjakkan pencapaian sekolah seiring dengan tuntutan Transformasi Sekolah 25 dan Revolusi Industri ke Empat (4IR). Justeru, kajian diskriptif ini bertujuan untuk meninjau tahap keberkesanan kursus penyelidikan Kajian Tindakan dalam kalangan pemimpin sekolah (SLT) sekolah rendah di negeri Terengganu. Oleh itu, keberkesanan kursus penyelidikan Kajian Tindakan diukur menerusi tahap pengetahuan dan kefahaman peserta tentang kajian Tindakan. Sampel kajian terdiri daripada 56 orang pemimpin sekolah (SLT) terdiri daripada dua buah daerah dalam negeri Terengganu iaitu Besut, dan Kemaman. Instrumen yang digunakan dalam kajian ini adalah soal selidik. Data soal selidik yang dikumpul dianalisis menggunakan ‘Statistical Packages for Social Sciences’ (SPSS) dan dapatan dilaporkan dalam bentuk deskriptif. Hasil kajian menunjukkan bahawa tahap pengetahuan dan kefahaman pemimpin sekolah (SLT) terlibat adalah pada tahap yang tinggi selepas menjalani Kursus Kajian Tindakan anjuran IAB. Selain itu, dicadangkan agar Kursus Kajian Tindakan memberi penekanan terhadap keupayaan menghasilkan kertas lengkap kajian dan membentangkan hasil kajian di semua peringkat.
... The competence of schooling is determined by the consistency between the quality of education and job market needs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2019, global discrepancies were identified between the graduates produced and the labour market demands (Verma et al., 2018). For instance, The World Bank's (Guidance Note, 2020) metric of "learning poverty," which refers to children who cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10, was a staggering 80% in low-income countries. ...
The COVID-19 pandemic set a New Normal (NN) and altered the modalities of performing different activities. Several activities came to a standstill, resulting in job loss and school closure. New dynamics in the labour market emerged, such as Working-From-Home (WFH), Virtual Meetings (VM), Social Distancing (SD), and Downsizing (DS). These dynamics altered employer-employee relationships, which espoused new skills. The strategy was to change policies to work from home and use Information Communication Technology (ICT). However, many people were not adequately skilled to face the new challenges. This paper aims to describe what short learning programmes (SLPs) are, why institutions offer them and examine why individuals participate in SLPs. The author uses the Capability Theory (CAT) and the Critical Reality Theory (CRT) to explain why SLPs are crucial to face employment challenges beyond COVID-19. The main findings are that SLPs are necessary for everyone to be re-schooled and attain new skills needed at a specific time. Hence, many institutions offer SLPs to various learners. The contribution of this paper is the advocacy of SLPs to increase individuals' employability. Hence, SLPs are depicted as a means for skills development beyond COVID-19.
... Moreover, graduate work-readiness challenges in three Asia Pacific economies (Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia) also had trouble attracting graduates with the necessary qualifications, talents, and personal qualities (Dhakal et al., 2018). Based on a review, it is posited that graduate work-readiness challenges can be effectively addressed by Human Resource professionals in partnership with other key stakeholders, including Higher Education Institutions (Verma et al., 2018). ...
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Teaching and learning methodologies are significant factors in building students’ competency after college life, making them a good contender in the labor market. The study determined the impact of the varied methodologies in teaching and learning on the graduates' competency. The 181 graduate respondents participated in the survey on a snowball method in data gathering. Frequency and simple percentage, weighted mean, Chi-Square Test of Independence, and One-way ANOVA were used to treat and interpret the data. The findings revealed that, in a pervasive way, the teaching and learning methodologies among faculties embodied in the flipped classroom, project-based learning, cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and competency-based learning in the Department were perceived by the graduates. By this instance, further findings revealed a significant relationship with adopting these varied methodologies and its influence on the graduates' competency in oral/written communications, teamwork/ collaboration, information/ technology application, leadership, and professionalism/ work ethic. The study concluded that a more substantial imposition of teaching and learning methodologies to the students' could greatly emphasize graduates' professionalism, leadership, communication, collaboration, and knowledge in information technology. Furthermore, the influence of flipped classrooms, project-based learning, cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and competency-based learning in the teaching and learning experiences in the Department provides a good impact on their competency as a graduate. These practices indicate a strong alignment between the institution's interests which focuses on producing competent and innovative graduates that are efficient and effective in the labor market.
With the commencement of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the future of new jobs, worker skills, and competencies appears to be a major concern for the Australian economy. There is widespread agreement that the current revolution (i.e., Industry 4.0) will impact both labour force transformation and future worker education. As a result, it is of high importance for researchers and practitioners in the Australian vocational and educational training (VET) sector to investigate the skills and abilities that will serve as the foundation for jobs in the third millennium. Hence, this paper aims to provide a scoping review of the skills and competencies needed in the Australian workforce in light of the Industry 4.0 revolution. Besides this, the paper offers knowledge-based contributions for all stakeholders to encourage and facilitate the transition of Australian businesses and workers to the Industry 4.0 revolution.KeywordsIndustry 4.0Australian VET sectorIoTSkills collaborationCompetence's profilessss
Graduate employability is one of the critical issues facing universities and related stakeholders worldwide. The current labour market constraints, exaggerated by COVID-19, have made graduate employability more pressing than ever. Vietnam urgently needs to develop more nuanced understandings about graduate employability based on the views of key stakeholders, including employers, university communities and alumni. It is also critical for the country to gain insights into the body of existing evidence to inform appropriate policies and practices regarding the development of graduate employability and a reform of universities to meet local and regional needs. This chapter provides an overview of the key issues related to graduate employability and employment outcomes, labour market needs and employer expectations, and the development of graduate employability within the higher education system. It also introduces the empirical study of graduate employability in the Northern mountainous region of Vietnam which forms the foundation for the discussion in this book.KeywordsGraduate employabilityLabour marketGeneric skillsEmployers’ expectationsEmployment outcomesUniversities
The social and cultural dimensions of professional learning in workplace contexts may nurture individual’s involvement and belongingness within the community. This chapter proposes a sociocultural perspective to understand the social and cultural aspects of a workplace. Such sociocultural approach is invaluable as most of the time, our graduates do have the qualifications and knowledge, but they lack the ability to integrate and interact with the social process. A sociocultural perspective allows us to understand the constraints and dynamics of a working context, whereby individuals may find struggle at work and feel stressed when they face challenges or setbacks. The present chapter provides insights of a sociocultural perspective on the graduate employability and workplace of individuals. This proposed approach aims to develop individual ability to survive and achieve in the future workplace, as well as it highlights the importance of understanding the social and reflexive process amongst individuals. This chapter makes a theoretical contribution, in that it elaborates sociocultural aspects of a workplace and provides insights into graduate employability by integrating individual, interactional and sociocultural practices. It thereby offers the possible and future directions of sociocultural research in the context of workplace community and lifelong employability.
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Despite efforts to broaden the concept of graduate employability, there remains an overarching focus on developing industry-relevant employability skills. The skills-based approach is, however, too narrow and does not fully capture the complexity of graduate work-readiness. This paper argues for the redefining of graduate employability by embracing pre-professional identity (PPI) formation. PPI relates to an understanding of and connection with the skills, qualities, conduct, culture and ideology of a student's intended profession. The ‘communities of practice’ model is drawn upon to demonstrate how PPI can be developed during university years. Here, a student makes sense of his/her intended profession through multiple memberships and differing levels of engagement with various communities within higher education's ‘landscape of practice’. Example communities include professional associations, student societies, careers services and employers. Implications for stakeholders are discussed.
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Mastery of certain generic skills and the successful formation of pre-professional identity are widely considered to influence graduate work-readiness and job attainment. Given their links with enhanced productivity, performance and innovation, skill development and graduate identity appear critical amidst ongoing global stagnation in advanced economies. This paper focuses on the success of higher education in developing generic skills and graduate identity using national data (n = 80,891) for 51 providers. It investigates the influence of certain demographics, study and degree characteristics on these important areas of undergraduate curricula. Furthermore, it gauges recent graduate perceptions on the importance of skill development to post-graduation employment and how these beliefs vary across different employment contexts. Implications for how education practitioners can produce graduates with the skills, self-belief, outlook and confidence to attain a graduate-level job are discussed.
For many years universities around the world have sought to articulate the nature of the education they offer to their students through a description of the generic qualities and skills their graduates possess. Despite the lengthy history of the rhetoric of such policy claims, universities' endeavours to describe generic attributes of graduates continue to lack a clear theoretical or conceptual base and are characterized by a plurality of view-points. Furthermore, despite extensive funding in some quarters, overall, efforts to foster the development of generic attributes appear to have met with limited success. Recent research has shed some light on this apparent variability in policy and practice. It is apparent that Australian university teachers charged with responsibility for developing students' generic graduate attributes do not share a common understanding of either the nature of these outcomes, or the teaching and learning processes that might facilitate the development of these outcomes. Instead academics hold qualitatively different conceptions of the phenomenon of graduate attributes. This paper considers how the qualitatively different conceptions of graduate attributes identified in this research have been applied to the challenge of revising a university's policy statement specifying the generic attributes of its graduates. The paper outlines the key findings of the research and then describes how the university's revision of its policy statement has built upon this research, adopting a research-led approach to academic development. The resultant two-tiered policy is presented and the key academic development processes associated with the disciplinary contextualization of this framework are considered. The discussion explores some of the implications of this novel approach to structuring a university's policy, in particular, the variation in the relationship between discipline knowledge and generic attributes which was a key feature of the qualitative variation in understandings identified in the research.
Purpose In the context of far-reaching changes in higher education and the labour market, there has been extensive discussion on what constitutes graduate employability and what shapes graduates’ labour market outcomes. Many of these discussions are based on skills-centred approaches and related supply-side logic. The purpose of this paper is to develop an alternative, relational conceptualisation of employability based on the concept of capitals. It discusses how this provides a more detailed and multi-dimensional account of the resources graduates draw upon when transitioning to the labour market. Design/methodology/approach The paper presents a new model on graduate employability, linked to five areas of capital which are seen as constitutive of graduates’ employability and significant to their transitions to the labour market. The paper draws together existing conceptual approaches and research studies to illustrate the different features of the model and how they relate to graduate employability. It also discusses some practical implications for those helping to facilitate graduates’ transitions to the job market. Findings The paper argues that the graduate capital model presents a new way of understanding graduate employability which addresses the challenges of facilitating graduates’ transitions and early career management. The forms of capital outlined are conceived as key resources that confer benefits and advantages onto individuals. These resources encompass a range of human, social, cultural, identity and psycho-social dimensions and are acquired through graduates’ formal and informal experiences. Research limitations/implications Whilst this is a conceptual model, it has potentially strong implications for future research in this area in terms of further research exploration on the core components and their application in the labour market. Practical implications This re-conceptualization of graduate employability has significant implication for graduates’ career management and strategising in developing resources for enhancing their transitions to and progression within the labour market. It also has implications for career educators in developing practical employability strategies that can be used within institutional settings. Social implications The paper raises salient implications for the effective and equitable management of graduate outcomes post-graduation which has clear relevance for all stakeholders in graduate employability, including students/graduates, career educators and employers. Originality/value The paper develops a new model for conceptualising graduate employability and illustrates and applies this to discussion of graduate employability. It also raises practical applications around the different components of the model.
Recent developments in higher education have seen a strong emphasis placed on making graduates ‘job ready’ for their work in the professions. A driver of this agenda has been the many mass-scale surveys conducted with business and industry about the abilities and general employability of graduates. This Australian-based study is focused on perceptions and attitudes around one such ability – professional writing skills. ‘Discourse-based interviews' were conducted with managers and supervisors from a range of professional areas. Their responses were most interesting, and served, among other things, to challenge some of the emerging ideas about ‘job readiness’ in current debates about the directions of higher education.
Stakeholder theory has been a popular heuristic for describing the management environment for years, but it has not attained full theoretical status. Our aim in this article is to contribute to a theory of stakeholder identification and salience based on stakeholders possessing one or more of three relationship attributes: power, legitimacy, and urgency. By combining these attributes, we generate a typology of stakeholders, propositions concerning their salience to managers of the firm, and research and management implications.
The competition for talent is global. Reducing skill shortage problems boosts employment participation with a flow-on effect to the health and well-being of societies. Employment distributes a society's wealth among its citizens with a level of equity. This paper focuses on skill shortages in the labour force in Vietnam (in particular professional and technical qualifications) and basic capabilities in the manufacturing and service sectors. This is a qualitative research study involving an extensive literature review using secondary data. It concludes that skills shortages present significant challenges for the Vietnamese government. Plausible solutions to these identified challenges include focusing on substantial revisions to the national education and training systems in consultation with numerous associated stakeholders. The problem is both a national and an institutional human resource management (HRM) issue; such consultation should involve government policy-makers, industry associations, unions, educational and HRM specialists.
Background: As universities in many countries engage more directly with industry, the learning emphasis has moved from the student experience to the work-readiness of the graduate. This focus on the student as potential worker is expressed through graduate attributes: particular sets of employability skills developed by institutions and embedded into the curricula.Main argument: Graduate attributes are problematic, however, since they focus firmly on students’ future identity as workers, rather than their current identity as students, and in doing so they offer a simplistic, and – for some – troubling, view of the purpose of universities. In this paper, we advocate a return to consideration of student identity.Conclusion: We suggest that, for students, building an awareness of their student identity as they progress through their higher education experience is not only important for student engagement at university, but is also an integral aspect of shaping their work-readiness as graduates.