Key Skills: making connections between HE and the workplace

Dillon, Christopher and Hodgkinson, Linda (2002). Key Skills: making connections between HE and the workplace. In: 13th Improving Student Learning Symposium, 5-7 Sep 2002, London, UK.


This paper draws on a recent research project into high-level key skills links between HE and employment. The project has worked with groups in several universities and companies to explore how the developmental model embedded in the QCA key skills national standards can be used to support learning and assessment of higher level (QCA levels 4 and 5) key skills. Employers increasingly value skills such as teamworking, communicating effectively with partners and customers, and being able to adapt to new situations and develop new capabilities. Within organisations individuals may be expected to move from project to project and job to job. They may be expected to identify their own particular training needs, work within the company business goals and develop their own individual skills portfolio to satisfy professional recognition requirements. HE currently appears to offer relatively little support or training to develop the key skills needed in such environments. As part of the project students in HE have used a framework of planning, monitoring progress, presenting outcomes and reviewing progress to develop their skills. The model encourages learners to recognise and articulate their own capabilities more clearly, and offers an assessment structure for profiling achievement. It is this 'meta-skills' approach that is used to bridge the gap between HE and employment by encouraging learners to be actively aware of the context in which they are currently situated, and to make connections with experience, skills and knowledge they have gained elsewhere. The paper presents some preliminary findings and comments from the project.

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