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Disciplinary differences in the development of employability skills of recent university graduates in Manitoba: some initial findings

Author(s): Matthew Kwok

Journal: Higher Education Perspectives
ISSN 1710-1530

Volume: 01;
Issue: 01;
Start page: 60;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: higher education | employability skills development | university graduates | undergraduate programs

Despite recent concerns of employers about the lack of preparedness of recent graduates and entry-level workers, it is worth noting that university graduates from a variety of academic disciplines have reported a wide range of employability skills either developed from their program of studies or used in the workplace. In this study, twenty departments, schools, and faculties, selected from a single university in Manitoba were slotted into Biglan’s classification system of hard, soft, pure, and applied fields. A total of 1057 university graduates took part in the study that investigates whether or not university students are sufficiently prepared for this new context. General findings from this study revealed that there are variations in the perceptions of university graduates across Biglan categories on the development and use of employability skills. Specifically, university graduates of soft fields perceived greater development of writing and oral communication skills than graduates of hard fields. Meanwhile, graduates of applied fields perceived greater development of teamwork skills than graduates of pure fields. Developing a wide range of employability skills is useful from the perspectives of university graduates because it allows them to have a portable set of skills that can be taken to the workplace and from job-to-job. It is generally accepted that today’s generation of graduates and workers will increasingly be required to develop, possess, and use a wide range of employability skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and decision-making skills regardless of their field of employment.
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