Higher Learning Research Communications

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Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the relative importance of different employability skills for business graduates seeking initial employment.

Method: Semi-structured survey questionnaires were administered to human resources representatives from industry, business lecturers, and graduating business students to determine gaps in perceptions between the three stakeholder groups.

Results: There was some alignment and moderate discrepancies in perceptions of the relative importance of different employability skills between the three stakeholder groups. There were statistically significant differences in perceived importance of communication, teamwork, and interpersonal skills between graduating students and employers. There is evidence that employers were satisfied with the level of academic skills possessed by business students at the time of graduation. However, there was significant difference in perception between employers and graduating students on the extent to which perseverance and initiative and risk-taking were fully developed among business graduates.

Conclusions: By increasing their self-awareness and critical reflection on their learning experiences, graduating students can take proactive steps to enhance their positional advantage in the labour market. The various stakeholders, including academics, can lead a social dialogue towards a deliberate approach to developing graduate employability.

Implications: Acquiring in-demand soft skills is one side of the employability coin; the other is developing dynamic psychological-social capital, such as self-awareness, self-directness, proactivity, adaptability, and resilience, that is underpinned by lifelong learning. Both are needed to navigate multiple job transitions and career challenges throughout one’s career span.