Introduction

Higher education institutions face many issues in the skills development of the graduates and providing them with the best set of attributes to ensure high employability (Osmani, Weerakkody, & Hindi, 2017). However, only a few studies presented their findings on the topic related to improving education standard through a framework. This review presents the information on the attributes needed by the graduates. Besides this, the review also exhibits the strategies, which can be adopted by higher education institutions to ensure employability by using literature review methodology.

Literature review

Graduate attributes

With the increase in the competition of the job market, it has become important for the graduates to carry job attributes, which will help them to secure a job (Osamni et al., 2017). According to the study of Campbell (2010), Australian universities provide generic skills and attributes to most of the international students, which do not provide them with better attributes to secure a job. Based on the assessment, they concluded that the education standard of both local and international students should be raised by the inclusion of practical skills, which currently lack in the academics. Based on the arguments, it can be mentioned that graduate attributes play a significant role in providing them with the job and the universities must focus on them.

Another study presented by Coetzee (2014) evaluated graduate attributes by investigating the role of lifelong learning in academic self-directedness. The results obtained in the study showed a positive relationship between the role of lifelong learning attributes and their influence on the academic self-directedness. Therefore, they concluded that lifelong learning should be incorporated in the higher education. They also suggested that the best method to incorporate it is to utilise the moral citizenship lifelong learning attributes. The argument is even supported by Osmani et al. (2015) who determined that universities should adopt long-life learning attributes in the academics to ensure high employability chances.

If the perceptions of the scholars are analysed, it is found that the graduate attributes should be based on long-life learning attributes by keeping the challenges faced in consideration (Osmani et al., 2017). However, another study presented by Campbell (2010), who mentioned that more studies should investigate the attributes required to increase employability chances. Althougha highnumber of studies in the context of attributes were conducted, most of them were restricted to the context of country policies; thereby, these studies cannot be followed generally.

Employee attributes and employability

Currently, many universities face challenges to promote higher education and better employability because of a rising number of challenges. According to the study of Osmani et al. (2015), graduate employability increased in recent years, when the university graduates significantly increased with narrowing down of the job market. Some universities also face the issues in the development of the required academic structure because of technological advancements taking place rapidly (Coetzee, 2014). Although many studies identified the attributes required for better employability, no study found the identification of steps.

Sin & McGuigan (2013) examined that designing the innovative platform must be used by the universities because many developed countries nowadays improve their technological advancement to a greater extent, specifically to provide the students with an enhanced learning environment.The argument is also supported by Coetzee (2014), who explained that a university cannot provide its students with the best education platform unless it makes use of the technology. Some other attributes required by the graduates include communication, leadership skills, teamwork, high self-esteem and flexibility in adopting new attributes (Sin & McGuigan, 2013).

Still, the debate related to the students’ employability continues in literature. For example, the study of Creasey (2013) described that a good graduate student possesses three quality components, which are; a degree, the required skills and a set of personal attributes. However, the statement looks generic and needs more assessment of specific skills. Creasey (2013) developed a design to help the students in compiling their skills; they currently possess and the design can help them to improve these skills. The method used by the author was based on learning theory and it helped the students to learn the desired attributes and to secure a job. However, this learning method was not found in any other study. Therefore, its affectivity cannot be evaluated. Consequently, it can be mentioned that effective learning cannot be made without the use of technology because it develops attributes with high demand in the job market.

Framework for the development of graduate attributes

If the framework of the graduate attributes’ development is assessed, various scholars presented several suggestions on the skills development.However, none of them presented step by step procedure. One of the studies presented by Osmani et al. (2017) explained that graduates must have communication and leadership skills because people with the low confidence cannot secure a job. Therefore, the universities must involve the students in presentations because it would help them to build their confidence (Campbell, 2010). Another important factor of development of graduate students’ attributes includesproblem-solving skills, which cannot be achieved without involving the students in the decision-making skills; it can be done through activity-based learning (Osmani et al., 2017).

The argument also received the support of Coetzee (2014), who determined that the learning should be based on lifelong learning methods because this framework helps in the development of soft skills. However, the study of Creasey (2013) explained that problem-solving, presentation skills and situation-handling skills cannot be obtained without the use of technology, which must be included in higher education. Furthermore, higher education must develop a framework based on the assessment of students’ attributes;otherwise, it would not be an easy part to develop the required skills of the graduates. Although the study of Saad, Robani, Jano, & Majid (2013) argued that their findings can be used for the development of the framework, they did not identify the steps needed to be followed.

When a student graduates from the university, he or she should not require the skills only in terms of professional skills but he or she must have an adequate softs skillset to perform as an appropriate employee on the job (Osmani et al., 2017). Therefore, the universities should focus on the development of both the skillset, instead of teaching academic subjects only. If the recommendations presented above are summarised, it can be exhibited that higher institutions should involve the students in presentations and should provide them with the platform, where they can improve their soft skills and their confidence level.

Conclusion

It is important for the management of higher education to provide graduates with both types of skills; the soft and the professional skills. Although many conclusions can be drawn from the above literature, some controversies also exist in the arguments presented by scholars. For example, some scholars argued that provision of technology can provide the solution to the problem faced by the university management in the provision of quality attributes required for employability. In contrast, some of them argued to increase the number of public speaking activities, which is an important attribute to boost the confidence level of the students.

One of the authors argued to include lifelong learning platform in the higher education because this platform will help the development of skills for a long time. With the increasing number of graduates, the competition of jobs grew intense and the graduates with good attributes in both academics and soft skills are on the higher chances to secure their jobs. Hence, academic institutions should develop a platform, where students can engage themselves in the form of teams so that the team development can take place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Campbell, A., (2010). Developing generic skills and attributes of international students: The (ir) relevance of the Australian university experience. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management32(5), 487-497.

Coetzee, M., (2014). Exploring the mediating role of graduate attributes in relation to academic self-directedness in open distance learning. Higher Education Research & Development33(6), 1085-1098.

Creasey, R., (2013). Improving students’ employability. Engineering Education8(1), 16-30.

Osmani, M., Weerakkody, V., & Hindi, N. (2017). Graduate attributes in higher education: Examining academics’ perception in the Middle East. Journal of Education for Business92(2), 53-64.

Osmani, M., Weerakkody, V., Hindi, N.M., Al‐Esmail, R., Eldabi, T., Kapoor, K. & Irani, Z., (2015). Identifying the trends and impact of graduate attributes on employability: a literature review. Tertiary Education and Management21(4), 367-379.

Saad, M.S.M., Robani, A., Jano, Z. & Majid, I.A., (2013). Employers’ perception on engineering, information and communication technology (ICT) students’ employability skills, “. Global Journal of Engineering Education15(1), 42-46.

Sin, S. & McGuigan, N., (2013). Fit for purpose: A framework for developing and assessing complex graduate attributes in a changing higher education environment. Accounting Education22(6), 522-543.

 

Appendices

Summary table – one required for each source (7).

Table 1

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Osmani, M., Weerakkody, V., & Hindi, N (2017)

 

 
Aim or Scope  

Graduates Attributes importance in higher education.

 

 

 

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Semi-structured interviews with faculty members of public universities.

 

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

New skills and challenges in Qatari context.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

Communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and creative thinking contributes to important factors of employability.

 

 

 

 

 

According to the authors, the identified skills on the left contribute to the high chances of employability and universities should focus on the development of the identified skills.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Only public universities, Only Qatar,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Campbell, A., (2010)

 
Aim or Scope  

Generic skills and attributes of international students.

 

 

 

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Interpretive research framework, participant observations in Australia.

 

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

Australian university, generic skills and attributes of graduates.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

General skills and attributes contribute to the skill development of attributes.

 

 

 

 

 

According to the findings reported in the study generic skills, comprising of soft skills must be incorporated in the academics, because they help to achieve required skills in the academics.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Only Australian context.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Coetzee, M., (2014).

 
Aim or Scope  

Mediating role of graduate attributes on students’ self-directedness.

 

 

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Undergraduate ODL students (N-1102), correlation.

 

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

The relationship between the role of the lifelong learning attributes and its influence on the academic self-directedness.

 

 

 

 

Lifelong learning should be incorporated in the higher education, and the best method to do it is using moral citizenship lifelong learning attributes.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Only South Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 4

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Osmani, M., Weerakkody, V., Hindi, N.M., Al‐Esmail, R., Eldabi, T., Kapoor, K. & Irani, Z., (2015)

 
Aim or Scope  

Identifying the trends and impact of graduate attributes on employability: a literature review.

 

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Literature review, n=39.

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

Impact of graduate attributes on

employability:

 

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

Universities should adopt long-life learning attributes in the academics to ensure high employability chances

 

 

If the long term planning and development is adopted in the academic setting, the chances of attributes development significantly increase.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Only addressed long-life learning attributes.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 5

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Sin, S. & McGuigan, N., (2013)

 
Aim or Scope  

A framework for developing and assessing complex graduate attributes in a changing higher education environment.

 

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Literature review, a sample from 14 universities.

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

Complex Graduate Attributes in a

Changing Higher Education Environment

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

Universities should adopt the innovative platform

 

 

The innovative platform must be used by the universities because many developed countries now develop technology in high numbers to provide the students with an enhanced learning environment.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Literature review methodology only.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 6

  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Creasey, R., (2013).

 
Aim or Scope  

Students’ employability

 

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

Action based research methodology.

 

 

 
Context and framework  

 

Students of 1st semester.

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

Learning platform should be used.

 

 

Learning theory should be used for better skill development. Learning theory develops required attributes continuously.  Learning theory helps to build skills in cycling form.
Limitations &  Additional information

 

 

 

Graduate attributes only. Only learning theory used.

 

 

 

 
Table 7    
  Notes Comments (Using the notes on the left and your own voice, construct 2/ 3 sentences)
Author and date  

Saad, M.S.M., Robani, A., Jano, Z. & Majid, I.A., (2013).

 
Aim or Scope  

Employers’ perception on engineering, information and communication technology (ICT) students’ employability skills

 
Participants,

when and where

 

 

A 13-item scale of engineering employability analysis.

 

 
Context and framework  

 

Engineering education employability.

 

 

 

 
Main results

or findings

 

Problem-solving, tool handling competency and presentation skills feature highly amongst the skills demanded of students by employers.

 

Problem solving, tool handling, and presentation skills should be developed. They contribute to better attributes. Chances of employability also increase.
Limitations &  Additional information  

Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) manual was used only.

 

 

 

 

 

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