Back to the future : business workplace competencies revisited
Ayling, Diana; Hebblethwaite, Denisa; Kirkland, Kerry
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Citation:Ayling, D., Hebblethwaite, D. E., & Kirkland, K. (2019). Back to the Future: Business workplace competencies revisited. In K. E. Zegwaard and K. Hoskyn (Ed.), Our place in the Future of Work: New Zealand Association of Co-operative Education 2019 Refereed Conference Proceedings (pp. 1-6).
Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/4737
Higher education has a responsibility to consider the development of generic competencies in students to enable them to transfer tertiary learning to meet the changing demands of the workplace when they graduate (Quek, 2005). According to Kay (2017) these cognitive, personal and interpersonal competencies should be co-created with key stakeholders and set the direction and shared vision of a programme of study. To ensure the best possible match between graduate competencies and employer needs, graduate competencies need to be regularly refreshed to ensure students have a relevant and useful curriculum. Work-integrated learning (WIL) courses in New Zealand are often taken by students in their final year of study, and involve students undertaking work and/or a project in an organization related to their major. WIL courses are typically used as a barometer in gauging the effectiveness of both a programme of study and the graduate profile in terms of developing “employability” and “graduateness” (Jackson, Sibson & Riebe, 2013; Oliver, 2011). Several substantive New Zealand studies identifying competencies in business education were last undertaken nearly 20 years ago (Burchell, Hodges & Rainsbury, 2000, Hodges, & Burchell, 2003). Graduate competencies, informed by the literature at the time, were ranked by employers as follows: ability and willingness to learn; energy and passion; teamwork and cooperation; interpersonal communication; customer service orientation; order, quality and accuracy; flexibility; problem solving; achievement orientation and initiative. Rainsbury, Hodges and Burchell (2002) explored the same set of competencies with business students and graduates and ranked the following as the most important: computer literacy, customer service orientation, teamwork and cooperation, self-confidence, and willingness to learn. Hebblethwaite and Ayling (2018) investigated the development of employability skills, as advocated by the New Zealand Employability Skills Framework, during a WIL experience to inform future WIL curriculum development. The study determined that employability skills are developed by students in WIL courses at variable levels. Thus, the challenge for business programmes is two-fold; first, to ensure graduate outcome statements promote graduate “employability” and “graduateness” and second, that the prescribed graduate outcome statements occur in the programme of study. In this paper we discuss the challenge of developing “employability” and “graduateness” in business programmes and WIL courses.