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This paper analyzed the perceptions of Graduates, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Employers on Graduates Employability in Bangladesh. By using Quantitative Methodology, the study found that there is a significant perception gap between Employers and Graduates as Graduates strongly believe that scoring higher CGPA increases the chance of securing a job in the competitive labor market, on the other hand Employers give top most priority on 'Integrity' and 'Communication Skills' and advised that CGPA is used mostly for job applications screening purpose. Therefore HEIs should include 'Employability Skills' in the curriculum and assessment. Though few HEIs have introduced Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE), however these are yet to contribute in Employability Skills Development. The Existing Curriculum is not Employability Skills focused, so Employers and HEIs should establish a collaborative strategy for developing Employability Skills that will eventually develop efficient Human Resources.
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Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
Copyright © 2018 TIIKM
ISSN 2424 - 6700 online
Corresponding Author’s Email:
Anisa Sultana
American International University Bangladesh (AIUB)
Abstract: This paper analyzed the perceptions of Graduates, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)
and Employers on Graduates Employability in Bangladesh. By using Quantitative Methodology, the
study found that there is a significant perception gap between Employers and Graduates as Graduates
strongly believe that scoring higher CGPA increases the chance of securing a job in the competitive
labor market, on the other hand Employers give top most priority on ‘Integrity’ and ‘Communication
Skills’ and advised that CGPA is used mostly for job applications screening purpose. Therefore HEIs
should include ‘Employability Skills’ in the curriculum and assessment. Though few HEIs have
introduced Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE), however these are yet to contribute in Employability
Skills Development. The Existing Curriculum is not Employability Skills focused, so Employers and
HEIs should establish a collaborative strategy for developing Employability Skills that will
eventually develop efficient Human Resources.
Keywords: Employability Skills , CGPA, Employers, HEIs, Graduates
Many students find themselves at the road of life with little direction upon graduation. Unfortunately 70% of
high school graduates lack professionalism and work ethic skills found by Bronson (2007), Gewertz (2007)
and Dutton and Omar et al. (2012) . It is also identified by Sutton (2002), Perreault, (2004), Wilhelm (2004),
Glenn (2008), Parsons (2008), Mitchell et al, (2010) and Shafie & Nayan (2010) that most of the community
college students in USA ,Malaysia and Latin America lacked relevant employability skills. According to
employers, a good academic qualification is no longer sufficient to secure employment(Yorke,2006) , degree
classification is for screening the job applications and for short listing purposes (Graduate Prospects, 2009).In
many cases, employers use criteria like series of skills activities, psychometric tests and personality profile
other than degree to assess applications(Graduate Prospects, 2009).It is believed that graduates with good
employability skills may otherwise be missed because they have not achieved good academic qualifications
(Denholm, 2004; Morley et al., 2006; Morley and Aynsley, 2007). Moreover, degree classification or grading
system may not be reliable (Yorke, 2007) and grade inflation has been a concern for long (Baty,2007).
Furthermore, different regulations and practices related to degree outcomes in different universities could
undermine the fairness and comparability of the grading system across different institutions (Lowe, 2007; Yorke
et al., 2007). As students are expected to contribute at workplace immediately after getting hired (Confederation
of British Industry, 2008) Employers suggested that Higher Educations Institutions (HEIs), should be teaching
their students how to cooperate with others in the workplace (Evenson, 1999) by developing skills that will
make them employable.
However no research has attempted to know the reasons why graduates are incapable of meeting employer’s
requirement and the role of HEIs in developing students’ knowledge and skills that make them employable.
Therefore this study has four objectives : i. To explore Perceptions of Employers, Graduates and HEIs’ about
graduates Skills, Knowledge and Characteristics which help new graduates to be employable ii. To address the
perception Gap if there is any iii. To evaluate the HEI’s curriculum whether these are students employability
Anisa Sultana / Enhancing The Capacity Of Organizations And Higher Education Institutions……
focused and iv.To explore the opportunity to collaborate HEIs and Employers to increase Graduates
Employability. This research has taken ‘Bangladesh’ for data collection.
Literature Review
Employability is a set of achievements-Skills, Understanding a
Personal attributes- that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves
the workforce, the community and the economy.” (Yorke,2006).
Keller, Parker, and Chan (2011) defined employability skills as an assorted array of knowledge, skills, and
attributes that are relevant for the workplace. The term Employability skills used interchangeably with
nontechnical skills, is defined as the “interpersonal, human, people or behavioural skills needed to apply
technical skills and knowledge in the workplace” (Weber, Finley, Crawford, & Rivera as cited by De Villiers,
2010, p. 2). Employability skills are categorized as being related to human issues, such as communication,
teamwork, leadership, conflict management, negotiation, professionalism, and ethics (Azim et al.,
2010).Employers always prefer graduates to be social enough to adapt with the workplace culture, use their
knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve the common goals of organisations. Critical thinking ability
(reflection) is also highly required for innovation and anticipating and leading change (Harvey et al,1997; Little
2001 in Lees 2002). In the research report ‘How much does higher education enhance the employability of
graduates?’ Mason et al (2003) discussed that the concept of employability is mostly centred on the
development of communication, numeracy, information technology, and learning how to learn. However, more
recently, authors have moved towards a more complex understanding of graduate employability and proposed a
number of inter-related attributes, skills and competencies that help individuals to both secure and perform well
in employment. Rothwell and & Arnold (2007) proposed an approach for understanding employability that was
based on interrelated components which included wider contextual factors such as: student’s (a) academic
performance and engagement in his/her studies (b) confidence in his/ her skills and abilities (c) ambition
(d)perception of the strength of the university’s brand (e) The reputation the student’s university has within
his/her field of study (f) The status and credibility of the student’s field of study (g) The student’s awareness of
opportunities in the external labour market (h) the student’s perception of the state of the external labour market
(i) The external labour market’s demand for people in the student’s subject field.(Lowden at el.2011)
Beside these factors some organizations comment that graduates academic Performance is not so important that
make them employable rather for some employers , ‘the degree subject studied is not as important as the
graduates’ ability to handle complex information and communicate it effectively’ and that ‘Graduate recruiters
want a variety of other skills, personal and intellectual attributes, rather than specialist subject knowledge’.(
Knight and Yorke 2000).But unfortunately, ‘One of the major problems facing the employability agenda is the
discrepancy between HEIs and Organizations.Some, such as Lees (2002), suggest that there are fundamental
differences in the understanding of employability between employers and HEIs which has impeded progress in
promoting graduate employability measures. In her literature review, Lees highlights a number of studies (e.g.
Dunne et al, 2000; Harvey, 2000) which suggest that there is little common understanding between employers
and HEIs over the concept of relevant skills, and that increasingly, ‘graduate attributes’ are seen by employers
as more important than the degree subject studied.
The literature suggests that academics can be skeptical of incorporating employability skills into their teaching
and can see it as an attack on academic freedom in terms of content. Gunn et al (2010), states that while those
responsible for Higher Education provision agree that universities should take into account students’
employment needs ‘including the generic skills and abilities needed in the workplaceand reflect this in the
curriculum and course design, tensions remain because of academics’ concerns that engaging with the
employability agenda will lead to a diminution of academic standards and objectives(Gunn et al2010). However,
Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
this can be addressed by framing the issue in terms exploring how academics can teach their subject to promote
employability skills and attributes rather than diminishing the academic content (Coopers & Lybrand, 1998;
Harvey, 2000a). Knight and Yorke (2001) argue that curricula designed to enhance employability can also be of
benefit in academic terms. For example, in addition to subject knowledge, course content can address specific
and generic skills, self-efficacy and critical, reflective thinking (Knight & Yorke, 2001). As Lees (2002) states:
These dimensions will be developed through the program of study, the methods of learning, teaching and
assessment that the student experiences, through any paid work that is undertaken whilst at university and
through their social life and involvement with Guild activities.
Furthermore, it is argued that resources would be better utilized to increase employment-based training and
experience, and/or employer involvement in courses, which were found to positively affect immediate graduate
prospects in the labor market and, therefore, support graduates in the transitional stage into employment
Cranmer (2006).It will also minimize the concern as in many cases the employability skills acquired at
university may mismatch the skills that they need in employment (Mason et al2006).
Employability is to be tackled comprehensively. Universities have to reflect it in their mission statements,
learning and teaching strategies, course frameworks, strategic documents and practical guidance. Yet some
concern has been raised with regard to how the development of such skills can be embedded into universities’
practice, considering other priorities that influence their policies. In 2008, the House of Commons Innovation,
Universities, Science and Skills Committee carried out an inquiry into skills and training policy. Their report,
“Re-skilling for recovery” (House of Commons, 2009) identified successful examples of HEIs collaborating
with employers, but reported that employers were reluctant to fund collaboration with HEIs. This was because
they preferred to train employees when they started work rather than provide universities with money to do this
Therefore this study aims to find out whether or not Bangladesh’s HEIs and Employers are creating
employability skills by analyzing the perceptions of Graduates, HEIs and Employers.
An Employability Skills Inventory Profile was adapted from Cleary, Flynn, and Thomasson (2006), Venetia
Saunders and Katherine Zuzel (2010) and Ann-Marie Claudia Williams’(2015) research on Graduates
Employability. Beside Skills Inventory, a list of activities has been formulated by collecting data from Higher
Education Institutions (HEIs) Curriculums and Students’ Assessment Criterions. Assessment Criteria of Twenty
five out of forty six Business School of Bangladesh were taken into consideration .After the analysis six
common assessment criteria had been identified that directly contribute in Cumulative Grade Point Average
(CGPA) .Some extra curriculum activities have been identified that are promising for developing employability
skills but those activities were not mandatory for all students to participate and the outcome of performance of
these activities are not included in the Grades in most of the Business Schools.
During Summer Semester 2017 the Skills Profile and the HEIs activities list were sent to eighty employers
through four hundred Internship students of a business school of one private university of Bangladesh. These
students were selected as they got three months Internship placements in those organizations , as a partial
fulfillment of their BBA and MBA degree. The office of Placement and Alumni (OPA) of American
International University Bangladesh (AIUB) distributed the questionnaire through these students and made it
mandatory to return while submitting the internship report. Other than the Skills listed on the inventory that
employers were requested to priorities, they were also requested to include any new skills they wanted new
employees to possess when hired for a position within their organization. Respondents from employers group
were consisted of Human Resource Managers, Training Managers, line Managers and other managers who
usually are responsible for employees career management and performance management and recruitment and
selection. Eighty organizations received the questionnaire and more than 50 skills were listed though there were
Anisa Sultana / Enhancing The Capacity Of Organizations And Higher Education Institutions……
repetitions. The common skills were identified and renamed on the basis of organizational and theoretical terms.
Finally 12 employability skills were placed in a questionnaire that was sent for survey during Fall 2017 through
another batch of four hundred thirty internship students. These students also participated in the survey to give
their opinion about employability. ‘CGPA’ was also included as students of Summer included academic
performance as a means of winning a job. A 5-point Likert-type scale was created to measure the strength of
importance of each attribute. The questionnaire asked the employers and graduating students to rate the level of
importance of each of the 12 skills attributes. The range of extremely important (5), very important (4),
somewhat important (3), not very important (2), and not important (1) was used. At the end of the questionnaire,
there was space for free response, comment on any matters relating to students employability. The same scoring
regimes were applied for both employers and Graduating students, so that direct comparisons could be made.
The list of activities from HEIS also distributed through AIUB Institutional Quality Assurance Cell (AIQAC) to
twenty five universities in Bangladesh to comment on their existing curriculums role in students employability.
Data Analysis
Collected data were analyzed using the SPSS statistical software package (Version 20).Graduating students and
the employers were divided into two different groups. The overall mean values and standard deviation (SD) of
the scores for each skill were determined for each of these two groups. Skills were ranked in descending order
(standard competition order) by the mean value and SD.
To determine the correlation between the prioritization of skills data for the two groups the overall mean values
of the employer’s scores and of the graduates score for each skill were expressed as a scatter plot Pearson’s
correlation coefficient derived.
Another analysis on perception of HEIs and Employers on curriculum has been made to reflect the importance
of assessment criteria for employability. Some of the criteria, which are part of curriculum, deemed necessary
for students to attend and some are voluntarily offered.
Findings and Discussion
A scatter plot of employer mean scores and graduating mean scores for the importance of the various skills
represents a strong positive linear correlation. The correlation coefficient was +0.992 indicating that there was
good agreement among these two mean scores (Figure 1), and this was strongly statistically significant
Figure 1: Scatter plot showing correlation between skills priorities of employers and graduating students
Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
Employers overwhelmingly responded that integrity and communication was the top of two most important
skills needed by employers in todays’ market. All 80 employers (100%) indicated that integrity and
communication skills were extremely and very important. More than 70% employers indicated that work ethics,
interpersonal skills and adaptability are also extremely important for employment.
The frequency of each response and the percentages that indicated the level of importance of each skill attribute
as perceived by employers are represented in figure 2.
Figure 2: Employers perspective of employability skills
Same survey questionnaire was sent to graduating students in order to find out their perspective about the skills
required for employability. Response received was very surprising indeed as the factor that employers tend to
value less for employability has been identified as a top ranked priority by graduating students. CGPA, the skill
set/employability factor that was ranked 11th on the list from employers’ perspective placed on top of the list of
graduates. Because they strongly believe that scoring high CGPA increases the chance of securing a place in the
competitive job market, a good CGPA is good enough to change the course of their career. This led to believe
them that scoring higher CGPA is very significant at times of employment issue. On the other hand, common
thoughts shared as well by both the groups during the survey. Communication, as an employability skill has
been identified with equal importance. More than 90% responses agree that both CGPA and communication are
extremely important for upcoming graduates. Following diagram represents the ranking of employability factors
from graduates perspective.
Anisa Sultana / Enhancing The Capacity Of Organizations And Higher Education Institutions……
Figure 3: Graduates perspective of employability skills
The mean score and standard deviation of employability skills attributes related to
its perceived level of importance is represented in Table 1 (see appendix). Each of the soft skill attributes from
employers perspective had a mean score of ≥3.72 based on a 5.0 scale, where 5 = extremely important, 4 = very
important, 3 = somewhat important, 2 = not very important, and 1 = not important. None of the skills attributes
received a not important ranking. From graduates perspective each of the employability skill attributes (see
appendix) had a mean score of ≥3.88 based on a 5.0 scale, where 5 = extremely important, 4 =very important, 3
= somewhat important, 2 = not very important, and 1 = not important. None of the soft skills attributes received
a not important ranking.
Table 3: Employers and Graduates preference
Top Ranked skills employers prefer
Top ranked skills graduates prefer
While trying to investigate the perception of employers and HEIs on the role of existing curriculum in students’
employability, following findings has been identified:
Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
Table 4: Employers and HEI’s perception about employability in curriculum (5=strong employability, 0= No
Students Assessment Criteria
Employability (Employers view)
Written Exam
Written assignment
Individual and team presentation
Volunteering experience in event
management ( seminar,
From the above table, perception about studentsassessment criteria from two different perspectives has been
drawn. Assessment criteria those contribute towards better academic result and mandatory part of curriculum
has been identified as least importance for employability by employers and HEIs whereas in reality, general
thoughts among people are that “better academic result ensures strong chance of employment”. Most
importantly both employers and HEIs agree to the same note. Surprisingly, engagement in volunteer work has
been identified as one of the most important assessment criteria for employability by both employers and HEI.
This can be explained in a way that students have the scope of showing their skills when they involve
themselves in volunteer works as it is a kind of platform to showcase their individual skills and qualities that
ultimately portrays employability skills that employers look for. So, it is a very interesting finding that can be
taken into account for study and how these particular criteria can be included in the curriculum could be a matter
of further research.
Table 5: List of Activities that HEI doing for creating Employability (5 Strongly Agree, 0 Strongly Disagree)
Voluntary Activities
Employability by
Club Activities
Internal and External
Student Exchange Program
Event Management Skills
Participating Workshops
Guest Speakers from
Field Visit & Study Tour
Educational institutes have been trying to introduce certain voluntary activities in order to raise the skills of new
graduates that will eventually help them while hunting for job. Initiatives like organizing event management
Anisa Sultana / Enhancing The Capacity Of Organizations And Higher Education Institutions……
program where student can have the scope of presenting their strength in dealing with various activities their
own using skills and knowledge in order to host a particular event successfully. And employers view this
activity on a high ground as this ultimately shows how an individual will react to a situation and come up with a
positive outcome. So, in collaboration with employers, HEI’s have been implementing voluntary activities to
raise the employability skills that deemed necessary and significant from employers perspective. All the
activities listed on the table mentioned above, HEI’s trying to incorporate in the curriculum so that every
passing out graduates should have the required skills that is needed for employability.
Integration of employability skills as assessment into HEIs curriculum will promote hiring of students in
today’s workforce ( also supported by Glenn, 2008; James & James, 2004; Mitchell et al., 2010; Perreault, 2004;
Wilhelm, 2004. Industry-Educators Partnership is Highly required. Employers also need to make both external
and internal communication about required employability skills they are looking for in a particular job
position. It is suggested that Skills list will be mentioned in the job advertisement & direct questions related to
skills must be included during recruitment & Selection Process. It will survey to create awareness among
students and Higher Education Institutions. It is advisable that HEIS and employers should come forward and
start working in collaboration to develop graduates profile. In this regard they can have a joint fund through
which graduating students will be receiving skills training. It is understandable that both of the parties or any of
them may be resistant about having joint fund, however it should also be realized that beneficiaries of this
initiative is not only the students, employers can save time and money to develop employees, long term training
and many other development schemes. Organization will surely provide need based training but they will get
more ready to perform employees which actually they want. And interestingly no one should forget that
development is a long term process and employees cannot be developed within a limited time period of training
or counseling. Students and Human Resources as a whole needs to go through systematic development
framework since their student life. All the skills mentioned in this paper are also called as life skills, people
management skills, behavior skills, human skills, soft skills, work skills (Weber, Finley, Crawford, & Rivera as
cited by De Villiers, 2010, p. 2).Therefore, few hours training program for employees cannot ensure learning or
developing these skills.
Limitation and Future Research
This study did not address the number of acceptance and rejection in hiring graduates because of employability.
Moreover, since Skills Development is a long term process, it is important to figure out the right age, time and
level of Education to start learning and developing Employability Skills. Future researchers are also suggested
to investigate how environment too contributes in achieving these skills along with HEIs and Employers as
environment (family, friends, community, and culture) also has a vital role in developing skills into Human
It’s a matter of great concern that students still strongly believe that scoring higher CGPA will ensure their job
in the competitive market. The core gap between the Employers and Graduates expectations is that employers
are skills focused and graduates are CGPA focused. Therefore this is where HEIs can contribute the most.
Higher Education Institutions can surely develop the employability skills among graduates by engaging
employers in the course, stating ‘employability’ in the mission statement, Curriculum and Assessment. This is
how both of the stakes can work in collaboration in graduate employability. Though some HEIs are now
prioritizing Outcome Based Evaluation (OBE) but the number is very less .This study has not found any
evidence of inclusion of employability skills in the Graduates Assessment and CGPA. Hence, a highest CGPA
achiever in many cases fails to demonstrate employability skills that are a threat to the credibility of the
excellence of a graduate or a potential employee. Therefore to continue with the credibility , Higher Education
Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
Institutions (HEIs) should reform the existing curriculum and include ‘employability skills’ into it. It is a matter
of hope that students also realize the importance of developing ‘Communication Skills’ to be employable, as
according to employers this skills enhances other skills from the list i.e. interpersonal skills, negotiation,
adaptability, team building. Hence, it’s the high time for both HEIs and Employers to sit together to find the
right process of developing ‘Skilled’ human resources who are ready to perform in the work and life.
I dedicate this work to my husband, Shafqat Rana Sayed who has been an outstanding support emotionally,
physically and intellectually. To my daughters, Sumayrah Alisha Sayed and Sarinah Ambareen Sayed, two
motivating factors for completing this paper; it is my hope that their academic achievements will be more than
their mother’s achievement.
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Proceeding of the 4th International Conference on Education, Vol. 4, 2018, pp. 86-96
Table 2: Comparison between two groups of Mean and standard deviation of each employability skill attribute
relative to perceived level of importance (N=80)
Employability skills
Graduating students
Psolv & DM
IT Skill
3. List of Soft Skills/Employability Skills
1. Integrity-honest, ethical, high morals, has personal values, does what’s right
2. Communication-oral, speaking capability, written, presenting, listening, Understanding
3. CGPA- Cumulative Grade Point Average
4. Work Ethics- hard working, willing to work, loyal, initiative, self-motivated, on time, good
5. Interpersonal Skills- nice, personable, sense of humor, friendly, nurturing, empathetic, has
self-control, patient, sociability, warmth, social skills
6. Team Work-cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful,
7. Adaptability- Flexibility, willing to change, lifelong learner, accepts new things, adjusts,
8. Problem Solving & Decision Making-Critical Thinking, ability to lead, willingness and
skills to solve problems
9. Negotiation-People management skills, highly require where multiple stakeholders are there
in the organization
10. IT Skill-Technical , functional and hard skills that increases work efficiency
11. Team Work-cooperative, gets along with others, agreeable, supportive, helpful, collaborative
12. Numeracy-Basic functional Knowledge helps employees in the business world
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The identification of competencies needed by hospitality managers has been investigated since the 1980s. In all of the competency research related to hospitality management, essential competencies include skills that can be classified as soft skills, yet a comprehensive list of these soft skills has not been identified. The purpose of this project is to have industry professionals rate the importance of soft skill competencies found in literature, and then reduce this list of competencies by completing a factor analysis. This study serves as the beginning for a comprehensive study of soft skills needed in entry-level hospitality management positions.
Background: Soft skills describe career attributes that individuals should possess, such as team skills, communication skills, ethics, time-management skills, and an appreciation for diversity. In the twenty-first century workforce, soft skills are important in every business sector. However, employers in business continuously report that new employees are deficient in these soft skills. The literature suggests that more research is needed in the area of soft skills, to explore improved instructional methodologies that may be applied by business educators. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine Alabama business educators' perceptions of the importance of soft skills for success in the twenty-first century workforce. Method: Alabama business educators were surveyed to assess the importance of specific soft skills and how these skills affect success in the workforce. Results: A significant difference was found between the perceived importance of how specific soft skills affect success in the workforce and the location of school (city, county). Respondents perceived all eleven soft skills included in this study to be very important (M = greater than or equal to 4.95 on a 1-6 scale) to success in the twenty-first century workforce. Conclusions: Alabama business educators consider soft skills to be important components of the business/marketing education curriculum. Alabama business educators' perceptions of the importance of soft skills transcend demographic factors. In addition, a hierarchy exists among Alabama business educators concerning the importance of selected soft skills. Implications: This study provides information that should be utilized by business educators to improve the skills of students entering the workforce. (Contains 6 tables.)
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to facilitate further understanding of project complexity by highlighting the factors contributing to project complexity as reported by the practitioners facing the “actuality” of projects. Design/methodology/approach – A qualitative research approach was undertaken by conducting semi-structured interviews with the primary focus on the aerospace industry. Participants are involved in a variety of project settings, exhibiting different types and levels of complexity. Findings – Analysis of responses highlights “people” issues as the main factor contributing to project complexity and the importance of soft skills in managing complex projects. Research limitations/implications – The research is based on a limited number of respondents from the aerospace sector. This will be further refined and improved upon by compiling views of additional practitioners involved in multiple aerospace projects. Practical implications – The main research conclusions are that “hard” project management skills help to organise, plan and manage, and track changes during the course of the project. However, understanding of project complexity and its contributing factors helps practitioners to understand the dynamic, social and complex contexts of projects, thus highlighting the importance of “soft” skills. Originality/value – This paper proposes the “project complexity triangle – people, product and process”, highlighting their importance as the three major areas contributing to project complexity.
The historical background to Personal Development Planning (PDP) in the context of Progress Files is briefly outlined, together with an acknowledgement of the way in which the recommendations of the Burgess Review may take it forward in relation to new ways of measuring and recording student achievement. There is consideration of a range of difficulties and questions associated with the introduction of PDP into HEIs. Implementing PDP at Oxford Brookes University and what it can achieve is examined against the background of some of these difficulties and questions. The conclusion is that the limited focus and ambitions of the first stage of the implementation of PDP at Oxford Brookes can provide a sufficient platform for worthwhile work to be done with undergraduates focussing on preparation for and transition to employment whilst further research is undertaken in the sector into some of the more problematical aspects of PDP.
This paper is based on a research project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England which investigated employers' needs for information on higher education quality and standards. A key issue was identifying the type of knowledge that employers utilise in graduate recruitment. A finding of the study was that information on quality and standards was being used by some employers in a way that could undermine equity and widening participation initiatives. Whereas employers reported that, in initial recruitment, they placed least emphasis on information about quality and standards and most emphasis on graduates' interpersonal and communication skills, over a quarter used league tables/Top 20 lists in their decision-making processes and 80 per cent of employers cited the importance of the reputation of the higher education institution in their decision making about marketing and individual recruitment of graduates. Reputation was based on real or imagined league tables, ‘grapevine’ knowledge, personal, regional and professional networks, performance of past graduates and prejudice against new universities. The hierarchy of opportunity within the labour market often appeared to correspond to a highly stratified higher education sector.
The paper addresses one aspect of the`New Realities' of higher education: theemployer-higher education interface. It explores thedevelopment of the `employability' agenda in highereducation, examines the nature and implication oforganisational change for graduates and assesses whatattributes graduates will need in the next decade.Flexible organisations need flexible, and increasinglyempowered employees; that in turn calls fortransformative and empowering learning. The way thathigher education might address this, particularly inthe context of lifelong learning, is explored.
Employability, it is argued, can be embedded inany academic subject in higher educationwithout compromising core academic freedoms. Astrategy for curriculum change is described,which is sensitive to both governmentalexpectations and traditional academic values –and is relatively easy to use. The strategyprovides a way of preserving legitimatediversity in response to the homogenisingtendencies of the human capital policies thatare influential in many advanced economies.