Should University Students be Taught Workplace Skills in their Undergraduate Degree?


Workplace skills such as communication skills, time management, planning, team working, and problem-solving are not only essential in general performance and life but also in the workplace. While these skills were previously taught in postgraduate studies in a majority of the universities, there is the need to change the trend.  Job opportunities are very competitive due to the high number of graduates and the limited opportunities. Employers are also in need of high performance from the employees. The subject matter of this paper, therefore, is to discuss why students in the university should be taught workplace skills while undertaking undergraduate degree.

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The contemporary workplace requirements are dynamic and complex. For this reason, universities are expected to produce graduates with the relevant skills. Workplace skills do not only equip the graduates with the knowledge required but also place them in a better position for employability (Sarkar et al. 2016). Although some employers coach new employees on workplace skills, the training may not be as intense as taught in universities. Moreover, when such skills are taught when student pursue their undergraduate courses, it means that every student will have an opportunity to learn them. Consequently, the employees will have a less burden of coaching the employees on the same. Therefore, universities have the primary responsibility for ensuring that students are taught the workplace skills as they undertake the undergraduate courses (Jackson, 2014).

The integration of workplace skills in undergraduate studies is the simulation of workplace milieu in a classroom context. It is essential in familiarizing the students with the actual expectations in the working environment.  According to Crebert and the colleagues (2004), the workplace skills learned in the classroom are reinforced by the work placement experiences thereby allowing the students to reflect and analyze on the experiences in respect to the workplace supervisors and academics. In addition, Jackson (2016) maintains that the students have an opportunity to integrate the knowledge from their specific courses personal characteristics, and workplace skills and attempt to apply all in a workplace context.

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Some students may already possess some skills such as time management and communication skills while joining the university. However, the big problem is that even as they learn other skills in the classroom, they may not know the importance. Therefore, the central aim of teaching the skills during a student’s undergraduate course is not only to provide the students with the knowledge on skills but to teach on their importance and how they are applied in a workplace (Jackson, 2016). The students who learn the skills during their undergraduate studies have the insight on what the potential employers may be looking for during employment. Crebert et al. (2004) argue that other than the academic qualifications, employers look forward to self-motivated employees and this call for possession of the necessary workplace skills.

In conclusion, it is evident that workplace skills are crucial when it comes to employment. Therefore, a graduate does not necessarily have to obtain these skills while working but need to possess the skills long before looking for employment. The possession of the workplace skills places a graduate at a higher chance to secure employment because they have hat majority of the employers want. Employers, thus, expect that universities produce ready-for-employment graduates. Employment skills help graduates compete favorably for the available job opportunities. Consequently, students in universities should be taught workplace skills as they pursue their undergraduate degree.

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  1. Crebert, G., Bates, M., Bell, B., Patrick, C. J., & Cragnolini, V. (2004). Developing generic skills
  2. at university, during work placement and in employment: graduates’ perceptions. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(2), 147-165.
  3. Jackson, D. (2014). Testing a model of undergraduate competence in employability skills and its
  4. implications for stakeholders. Journal of Education and Work, 27(2), 220-242.
  5. Jackson, D. (2016). Modelling graduate skill transfer from university to the workplace. Journal
  6. of Education and Work, 29(2), 199-231.
  7. Sarkar, M., Overton, T., Thompson, C., & Rayner, G. (2016). Graduate employability: views of
  8. recent science graduates and employers. International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (formerly CAL-laborate International), 24(3).
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