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Table of Contents Introduction Excellent Written and Verbal Communication Skills Personal Learning and Development Skills Independent

Working Skills Problem Solving Skills Team Working Skills Bibliography 2 4 5 5 6 7 10

Introduction Employability is a critical issue for both government and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). With the expansion in Higher Education and recent economic downturn, there is intense competition for jobs in the graduate employment market. The Summer Graduate Recruitment Survey 2009 (Association of Graduate Recruiters, 2009) indicated that on average there were 48 applications per graduate vacancy. Living in a world where the focus is shifting to the continual production of knowledge as a commodity, positioning workers as human capital, virtually immune to obsolescence (Butler, 1999). Identifying and developing the important competencies required of graduates is a challenging task for the curriculum developers. The prime function of cooperative education programs worldwide is to prepare the students for the workplace by developing generic and specific competencies that would be useful to employers (Rainsbury, Hodges, Burchell, & Lay, 2002). The present study builds on previous work undertaken of stakeholders views of business graduate competencies (Burchell, Hodges, & Rainsbury, 2001) and science and technologies graduates competencies (Coll, Zegwaard, & Hodges, 2002a, 2002b). What actually do we define by the term of competency? (Spencer & Spencer, 1993) View the competency as a characteristic of an individual that which related to job performance. Competencies can accumulated within an individual and represent a capacity to perform at some future point (Boam & Sparrow, 1992), (Page, Wilson, & Kolb, 1993). Essentially, these definitions relate to enduring characteristics possessed by an individual that, under normal conditions, should result in an acceptable or superior job performance. In a workplace context, competency is a combination of cognitive skills (technical knowledge, expertise and abilities), and personal or behavioral characteristics (principles, attitudes, values and motives), which are common function of an individual personality. (Spencer & Spencer, 1993) Suggest that if people with the right personal characteristics are recruited initially, then they should have the capacity to quickly acquire the relevant (technical) knowledge and skills in order to attain their employers performance objectives. Every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from job seekers that match the skills necessary to perform a particular job. However, beyond these job-specific technical skills, 2

employers nearly universally seek certain skills. The good news is that most job seekers possess these skills to some extent. The better news is that job seekers with weaknesses in these areas can improve their skills through training, professional development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from someone who understands these skills (Randall & Katharine). There are various definitions of employability; the one adopted here is that of (Yorke, Employability in Higher Education: What it is - What it is not., 2006): a set of achievements skills, understandings and 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. One of the key reasons why many students invest in university education is to improve their employment prospects. However, whilst achievement of good academic qualifications is highly valued, it no longer appears sufficient to secure employment (Yorke, Employability in Higher Education: What it is - What it is not., 2006). Additionally, employers expect students to have well developed employability skills, so that they can make an immediate contribution to the workplace when recruited. Thus, whilst some employers screen job applications based on degree classification, such achievements are much less important at the short-listing stage. Moreover, in some cases, employers initially use criteria other than the honors degree to assess applications; often-requiring applicants to undertake a series of skills activities and psychometric tests and to produce a personality profile (Graduate Prospects, 2009). Graduates with good employability skill otherwise may be missed because they have not attained good academic qualifications (Denholm, 2004) (Morley & Ansley, 2007). The different regulations and practices pertaining to degree outcomes in different universities could undermine the fairness and comparability of the classification system across different institutions (Lowe, 2007) (Yorke, et al., 2007). The importance of employability skills documented in an era that demands a value-added approach (Harvey, 2003). Emphasizing an urgent national need for improving the UK skills base (Leitch, 2006) highlighted that employability skills are not only essential to business competitiveness but also for prosperity and fairness. Recent general media interest underscores the topicality of employability skills and employer dissatisfaction with graduates, who they believe lack key skills (Clark, 2008). 3

Numerous studies have identified these critical employability skills, sometimes referred to as "soft skills." We have distilled the skills from these many studies into this list of skills most frequently mentioned. We have also included sample verbiage describing each skill; job seekers can adapt this verbiage to their own resumes, cover letters, and interview talking points. Personal qualities include independent learning, willingness to learn and effectiveness. Distillation from these key sources allowed the identification of ten core skills areas for the empirical study, namely: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x. Excellent Written and Verbal Communication skills Decision-making skills Independent working skills Information retrieval skills Leadership skills Numerical skills Personal learning and development skills Problem-solving skills Strategic skills Team working skills

Nevertheless, here we only discuss at least five (5) different skills that employers are looking for in future graduates. Excellent Written and Verbal Communication Skills Possibly the most requested skill employers look for is the ability to communicate articulately in both written and verbal forms, and whether you have the ability to organize thoughts and ideas effectively. Craig Price, Regional Manager for Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner Ltd says: "The ability to communicate ideas and concepts effectively in conversation, presentations, correspondence or reports is fundamental to growing a career in an organization." Good communication skills are essential to good Technological Practice. Students are required to keep comprehensive workbooks throughout each project, and these account for a 4

substantial portion of their final marks. Students are also required to set up and maintain a relationship with their clients throughout their projects, and to consult stakeholders, peers and, of course, the teacher in a continual process of research, consultation and evaluation. The specialized language of technology provides significant opportunities for enhancing students' competency in using language, symbols and text.

Personal Learning and Development Skills Most employers look for employees who are self-motivated and able to work independently, with as little supervision as possible. Coupled with self-motivation is a keenness to learn the technology industry is constantly changing and more and more employers are looking for staff with aspirations to improve their skills on the job. "Attitude is the main thing," says David McKay from Kitchen Contours. "If you've got the right sort of attitude you can pretty much do anything, it just the ability to listen and take instructions without being a know-it-all. It is not so much coming in and being able to do a perfect dovetail joint, but more being willing and able to learn on the job. I do not know how many apprentices I have had over the years of 10 or 15 at least and all now very good tradesmen. So if they want to learn on the job and they have good computer skills, which are a bonus." Sound Technological Practice demands the learning of new skills both before and during a project, and relies of creating a culture of self-motivation in the learning process. Technology students have a personal stake in their project. Balancing creative freedom with responsibility to clients and/or stakeholders, students are strongly encouraged to take ownership of their projects, including identifying required skills and investigating ways to attain them.

Independent Working Skills Employees may need to be able to manage several tasks at the same time. Multitasking skills and independent working skills are desirable as it can mean less micromanaging for an employer. A

potential employee who can effectively juggle more than one task at a time is attractive to organizations. "Our technologists are generally working on two or three different projects at any one time," says Sandra Chambers, Product Development Manager at Heinz Wattie's. "They are involved with all aspects of the development of new products. This means they need to be very good at multi-tasking." Ken Herd of Wanganui Incorporated agrees: "Specialized skills are important and in demand in modern business, however people with the abilities and aptitude to broaden their skill base into a multi-tasking role have strong credentials in the current competitive job market." Scott Abernethy, Software Engineer at Harris Stratex, has this to say: "Engineers can be assigned new work on a daily basis and often have to manage their work across multiple tasks and multiple projects. To be efficient and successful in their job engineers need to be able to prioritize work, to focus on the task at hand, and to be flexible and adaptable to change." Technology students are often multitasking as they cope with completing tasks in order to meet deadlines. They may be developing a prototype, collecting client feedback, and finishing sections of their workbooks, all in consideration to a projects deadline.

Problem Solving Skills Technological industries are continually searching for innovative solutions. They place emphasis on employees being able to think analytically, organize and plan effectively, and reflect on outcomes. The ability to find solutions to problems using creativity, reasoning, and experiences are often very valuable. "That's the key to any trade," says Rob O'Keeffe from Rob O'Keeffe Joinery. What you're really getting taught in your trade is how to organize a job." "It's not an old fashioned workshop anymore," says Peter Botting, Director of RML Automation, "there's much more depth to it and many more opportunities for bright students to get involved." Sandra Chambers, Product Development Manager at Heinz Wattie's concurs: "Good problem solving skills are vital to resolving product and process related issues. One aspect of a Food Technologist's role is troubleshooting in the manufacturing environment." 6

"Engineers need to know how to approach and solve complex problems," says Scott Abernethy of Software Engineer at Harris Stratex. "Complexity can easily overwhelm but a skillful engineer is able to deal with complexity by breaking down the problem into manageable elements, which can be solved and then combined in a total solution." Critical and creative thinking, planning, organization, and reflection are key competencies in Technology Education Being able to step back from a situation and answer questions such as 'what is happening?', 'why is it happening?', 'should it be happening?' and 'how could it be done differently?' rely on sophisticated thinking skills. In the technology classroom, students are encouraged to be innovative in finding solutions for their projects. Technology is a unique subject that encourages students to use creativity to design innovative solutions to opportunities. When undertaking their own Technological Practice, whether individually or as part of a group, students are required to develop self-management skills in order to effectively plan and manage resources efficiently.

Team Working Skills Employers want trustworthy employees who will act responsibly and with integrity, both individually and as part of a team. "The old fashioned principles of honesty, integrity and reliability remain the cornerstones of modern business," says Ken Herd of Wanganui Incorporated, "and the prime reasons behind a successful and trusting relationship between employers and employees". Technology projects often involve stakeholders and clients, requiring students to take personal responsibility to provide a solution on time and that meets the requirements not only of the client, but demonstrates consideration of needs, welfare, health and safety of all stakeholder, the user, the community and society also the environmental considerations. Team working skills needed employer to build a strong organization. The future graduate must have this skill to make them to be offer as an employer in any organizations. Most companies realize that teamwork is important because either the product is sufficiently complex that it requires a team with multiple skills to produce, and/or a better product will result when a 7

team approach is taken. Therefore, it is important that future graduate learn to function in a team environment so that they will have teamwork skill when they enter the workforce. In addition, research tells us that students learn best from tasks that involve doing tasks and involve social interactions. As we know, working skills are most important to future graduate to make them be capable for an employee. Various researches on employability skills conducted nationally and internationally and it founded that many technical graduates nowadays are lacking in employability skills rather than technical skills (Rasul & Puvanasvaran, July-December 2009). Among the skills, the above five skills are most important to employability. The written and verbal communication will help the future graduate for being effectively convey the information verbally and in writing. When the employee is able to listen, write and speak effectively, that would be a successful communication between the employers and an employee, so that bring the successful business and work. The educational institutions can provide the program, which engage the lecture and student to involve together. Program like mentor & mentee can be the one. Select a lecturer to be a mentor and a few students to be a mentee under him/her and help them not just in academic but also for their soft skill. Anytime when the student come to see their mentor, discussing about the academic, their problem on task given, they also can have some time to ask their mentor some idea to improve their soft skill to make them capable to be an employee when they graduate later. Therefore, the lecturer not just is an academician but also for a counselor to their students. Not just the program, the institution may also provide some courses to student for this soft skill. May be the institution can arrange a corporation to any potential employers or organization and have the student to do practical at their place. It could be the way to develop the soft skills in working place and give them a working experience. For the government, they could arrange some of proceeding or workshop for the exgraduate to develop their self-confidence and self-development for being an employee. The workshop and proceeding can be handling by them in purpose to increase the chance for the exgraduate to get job. Because of the jobs competency, the ex-graduate must have the employability skill to give them chances to employ. The government and private sector should see the way to help the ex-graduate to get job in order to decrease the rate of joblessness in our 8

country. Every year there will be a thousand of graduates that looking for job and they need a working experience. With the proceeding or workshop, it could help to expose the future and exgraduate to find ways and develop their working skill. Employability skills and personal values are the critical tools and traits the students need to succeed in the workplace and they are all elements that can be learn, cultivate, develop, and maintain over of lifetime. According to (Kathleen, 2005) through her research on technical graduates in United States also indicated that employer was not satisfied with the application of technical graduates not because of their lack of technical skill or knowledge but due to the lack of non-technical abilities.

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