The building of a professional: Creating greater career identity within a degree
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The skills required by a student to excel both academically and in their chosen professional careers have been identified by many institutions, and can be referred to as 'generic capabilities'. These generic capabilities can extend from interpersonal skills, problem solving, oral communication and career skills. In recent years concerns have been raised about a gap emerging between graduate attributes developed in university degrees and what industry requires (Yap, 1997; Albrecht and Sack, 2000; Kavanagh and Drennen, 2008). This is often referred to as a lack of 'employment readiness' of students and the need to engage industry with students and the curriculum. Such a concern was highlighted in the 2007 report titled 'Graduate Employability Skills' prepared for the Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council. One of the generic skills of concern is career skills, which relates to knowledge of the relevant profession, the ability to interact with the profession and seek a career. To address this concern a Professional Development Program (the PDP) was developed. The PDP is integrated into a Business Degree and is designed to systematically develop students' learning, employment and generic skills and supplements their theoretical studies. It is argued that this integration of the PDP permeating throughout the Degree enhances students' generic capabilities, including their career skills. This paper details the procedures that have been developed, and provides preliminary evidence that the PDP has, from the perspective of students, made a substantial contribution to the building of a 'professional'. In particular, we argue that integrating professional skills and awareness systematically into an undergraduate degree in partnership with industry has developed students' generic capabilities, improved their employment readiness and provided students with a greater understanding of their future profession.
The International Journal of Learning
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Vocational Education and Training Curriculum and Pedagogy