The Building of a Professional: Scaffolding Capabilities into a Degree
The skills required by a student to excel both academically and in their chose professional careers has been identified by many institutions, and can be referred to as ‘generic capabilities’. These generic capabilities can extend from interpersonal skills, problem solving, oral communication and career skills. In recent years concerns have been raised about a gap emerging between graduate attributes developed in university degrees and what industry requires (Yap, 1997; Albrecht and Sack, 2000). This is often referred to as a lack of ‘employment readiness’ of students and the need to engage industry with students and the curriculum. Such a concern was highlighted in the 2007 report titled ‘Graduate Employability Skills’ prepared for the Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council. While work integrated learning attempts to address this issue, it is questionable how successful this is if students are not adequately prepared prior to their placement.
To address this concern a Professional Development Program (the ‘PD Program’) was developed. The PD Program is integrated into a Business Degree and is designed to systematically develop students’ learning, employment and generic skills and supplements their theoretical studies. It is argued that this integration of the PD Program permeating the Degree enhances students’ generic capabilities.
This paper details the procedures that have been developed, and provides preliminary evidence on the impact of the PD Program in the first year of delivery and compares this with a control group from another campus without this program. We argue that integrating professional skills and awareness systematically into an undergraduate degree in partnership with industry will develop students’ generic capabilities and improve their employment readiness. We examine the effectiveness of our PD Program from the perspective of students and industry partners in this regard, as to whether it has assisted in the building of a ‘professional’.
Keywords: Generic Capabilities, Work Integrated Learning, Professional Skills, Academic Skills
Dr. Brett Freudenberg
Senior Lecturer - Taxation, Griffith Business School, Griffith University
Assoc. Prof. Mark Brimble
Senior Lecturer, Griffith Business School, Griffith University