Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Third International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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A competency development approach to learning for employment
Kathryn McLachlan, Linda Yeomans, Keith-Zhi-Guo Lim

Last modified: 08-06-2017


Higher Education Institutions are increasingly aware of industry expectations regarding work-ready graduates. Work Integrated learning and co-operative education initiatives are widely acknowledged for improving professional skills and work readiness, however, graduates often lack the ‘soft’ skills (communication, collaboration, problem solving) deemed essential for enhanced productivity and innovation in the workplace, i.e. employability skills (Jackson, 2010).

Anecdotal evidence from the Professional and Community Engagement (PACE) program at Macquarie University identified the difficulties that students experience in self-assessing employability skills. One research study highlighted the inflated self-perceptions and an overall lack of humility often associated with recent graduates (Papadopoulos 2010, cited in Jackson 2015).

This paper discusses the theoretical and practical development of a competency development approach to learning for employment using an Assessment Centre process model currently embedded in the curriculum of one PACE unit. Developed and coordinated by post-graduate psychology students, the model provides a set of behavioural criteria by which to assess student employability skills.

While there is little evidence in the literature of the use of AC's for enhancing undergraduate employability, (see Keele et al, 2010), preliminary research and evaluation findings from this project, suggest that the AC process can have a positive influence on the development of the ‘soft’ skills of employability

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