The gap between degree outcomes and employability skills: using scholarly enquiry to aid in future teaching practice.
Bremner, Pauline Ann Mary
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BREMNER, P.A.M. 2018. The gap between degree outcomes and employability skills: using scholarly enquiry to aid in future teaching practice. Presented at the Robert Gordon University annual learning and teaching conference: future work, future graduates; forging the link, 3 May 2018, Aberdeen, UK.
An honours year of any degree performs a valuable platform in enhancing the relevant skills sets, aiding graduates to become more 'work ready'. Whilst these skill sets take into account many factors, they translate to Level Learning Outcomes (LLOs) within the University context. Many Fashion Management graduates transition into both fashion and non-fashion employment, requiring a transferable skill set, for today's competitive marketplace. The employment market is being disrupted in two ways; career paths are becoming very transient, and skill requirements are becoming more digitally and soft skill focused (Harvey 2002; Mason et al. 2002; Trowbridge 2016). However, ECOYRS (2016) highlighted employees as having weaknesses in IT skills, higher than the numeracy and literacy category. Coupled with this there has been an increasing holistic approach to graduate skills development, with Black (2013) and Millar (2014) discussing the importance of experiential and deep learning alongside the development of 'soft skills'. Harvey (2002) noted areas for enhancing employability as inclusive of central support and curricula development with embedded attributes. RGU Careers and Employability Centre coupled with the Fashion Management Professional Skills Enhancement Sessions (PSE) aims to aid student transition in this way. However, with the UK economy changing and locally with the downturn of the oil industry in Aberdeen, it is important to deliver an appropriate attribute mix to aid a graduate's transition into the workplace. In adopting a mixed method approach this small scale research targeted stage four students, alumni and employers (in progress). The data analysis highlighted that alumni felt they had a skill set which transferred into employment whether fashion related or not, but there were gaps in digital and group/soft skills. The research findings give weight to the discussion on skills development and their transferability into the workplace. It supported the previous introduction of digital specific modules, informing ILSR documents. Research reflections encouraged the introduction of a communities for practice (C4P) model for group work (Fearon et al 2012) (still under development) in a stage four module and confirmed the PSE programme. These processes aim to close any gap through amended teaching practice.