There is an increasing demand for highly skilled workers in all advanced industrialised economies. Although most jobs require occupation-specific skills to carry them out, it is widely recognised that generic skills are ever more needed by job seekers, to increase job opportunities and maintain employability; this applies to all sectors of the economy, from selling cars to undertaking marine research. Several recent European Union strategy documents emphasise the importance of generic skills. However, the apparent mismatch between the skills sets that employers seek and that job seekers offer remains a major challenge. This paper focuses on perceptions of and attitudes to generic skills training for university graduates intending to gain employment in aquaculture, fisheries or other marine sectors and presents the results of a survey administered to academics, industry representatives, students (at different stages of their academic career) and graduates. The various respondents regarded most of the 39 generic skills under investigation as important, with none classified as unimportant. However, students undertaking different types of degree (i.e. B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D.) prioritized different generic skills and the level of importance ascribed to generic skills training increased as students progressed in their university careers. On the other hand, university staff and other employers were fairly consistent in their choice of the most important generic skills. We argue that there remains a need to place generic skills and employability attributes and attitudes at the centre of the higher education curriculum.
Bibliographical noteAcknowledgments The data used in this study were collected for the purposes of the EU-funded projects ‘‘AQUA-TNET 2’’ and ‘‘AQUA-TNET 3’’. The survey was designed with the assistance of AQUA-TNET project partners, in particular those involved in the Generic Skills workpackages of both projects. The authors would like to thank all the people who took part in the survey, both in administering the survey and respondents. We would also like to thank Marieke Reuver (AQUATT, Ireland) for the helpful comments.
- Generic skills