22 SES 09 E, Employability and Competences
Nowadays, is even more notorious the relevance that professional competences have into the labour market, understanding them as the keys which provide access to the world of work. Approaching the concept of competence involves, in an inevitable way, to analyse a huge reality in the university graduates’ training. The implementation of the European Space for Higher Education (ESHE) supposed a notable challenge of adjustment, innovation and modernization for the university institutions. The incorporation of the competences turns to be a basic element for the training of a society as changing as ours, that constantly renew its demands and at the same time aspire to professionalize the university training bringing closer higher education to the society and labour world (Schomburg & Teichler, 2006).
The philosophy of the current higher education model promotes that the design of the university studies take place according to the stablishing requirements to the European level, that is, taking into account the orientation of the competences based learning (Climent, 2010; Villa & Poblete, 2008). In Spain, the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) was the responsible in the supervision of the adjustment process made from the design proposed by the “Tuning Educational Structures in Europe” project (2003).
In the professional education field, the majority of the research about competences has been made from the acquisition point of view. The lack of references about the competences analysis in terms of utility for employment makes us appeal to studies that, even contributing with interesting results, are focus on the graduate’s perceptions about the competences level of development during their university phase. Nevertheless the employer’s opinion could bring much more relevant information, contextualizing the student’s perceptions in real contexts of professional development.
In these terms, the employment competences in higher education constitute an issue that has led to important projects, such as OECD “The Definition and Selection of Key Competencies (DeSeCo)” (2005) and research (Beneitone et al., 2007; González & Wagenaar, 2003; Paul, Teichler, & Van der Velden, 2000). The employer’s opinion about the labour market situation supposes a reliable orientation for the university institutions when planning training consistent with current work demands. It is true that we take the risk to subordinate the university training to the company, but we cannot forget that it is also in this world where our graduates become professional.
According to this, the university has acquired the essential commitment to facilitate the access to the labour market of the students and to this end is fundamental knowing the necessities and concerns of the agents that shapes the production fabric of our geographic field. To this end, the study that we present has as an objective knowing the opinion of employers and training responsible in institutions of Spanish context, concerning to certain competences of professional interest for the university graduates.
The present paper was carried out within the framework of the project "Service-learning and employability of university graduates in Spain: competences for employment" (EDU2017-82629-R), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.
Through a discussion group, held at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain), we have analyzed the vision of companies about the most valuable recent graduate’s competences. Specifically, the participants of this study were employers and managers of organizations in which graduates of the field of education work. The group was composed by 8 companies of different types and sectors, whose intervention was guided by a moderator, addressing issues related to the analysis of those competences that, from the point of view of employment, have a greater weight in professional development. Since the professional opportunities related to the professional field of Education are usually characterized by their extension and with the purpose of answering in a more specific way to our objective, the participants were selected taking into account the main areas that the scientific literature identifies for these professionals. Heterogeneity and representativeness that requires the use of this technique were considered (Gil, 1993; Krueger, 1991), being distributed the sample of participants by scope of the following way: 1- Educational technology 2- Organization and management of educational institutions. 3- Orientation and diversity. 4- Planning and training development. 5- Pedagogical intervention context. 6- Lifelong learning. 7- Orientation and professional insertion. Once the discussion group were developed, we transcript the session which is an important step in order to be able to use the NVivo software recommended to the qualitative research. This allowed us to carry out an exhaustive analysis of the collected information, and at the same time facilitated us the establishing of categories related to the addressed topics.
We can observe in the employer’s discourse a direct reference to four fundamental competences that must be acquired by the university graduates in the field of education to have the access to the labor market. Specifically the capacity to adjust to new environments; the capacity of enterprising spirit; the capacity to applying knowledge to the practice; and the capacity to manage, organization and planning, are the most valuable competences for the companies. Our findings agreed with the ones provided by other studies. In relation to the importance of the ability to adapt to changes, we highlight the study by Hager and Gonczi (1994). On the other hand, the capacity to apply knowledge to practice is also identify as relevant of the employers who participated in the Palmer, Montaño, and Palou (2009) research. Similarly, the “Tunning” project where employers were also participants collect the five most important competences to develop: capacity of analysis and synthesis, capacity of learning, capacity of problem resolving, capacity to apply knowledge to practice and capacity of adjustment to new situations. Attending to the classification proposed by the cited project, we observe that the employers in our research grant a greater weight, within the transversal competences, to those with systemic character, which means, those which integrate cognitive capacities, attitudes and practical skills. Finally, the capacity of entrepreneur spirit, identify as one of the fundamentals in our sample, we can find it in the Ferrer-Cerveró et al. (2014), Marina (2010) and Viera, Pérez, & Paredes (2008) studies, by pointing out that the key competence for the university graduates goes through the development of capacities and abilities related to the entrepreneurship. Similar results can be observed in the research elaborated by the ANECA (2009) that highlighted this competence as essential to the professional development of the graduates in Education.
ANECA. (2009). Los procesos de inserción laboral de los titulados universitarios en España. Factores de facilitación y de obstaculización. Madrid: Author. Beneitone, P., Esquetini, C., González, J., Marty, M., Slufi, G., & Wagenaar, R. (2007). Reflexiones y perspectivas de la educación superior en América Latina 2004-2007. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto. Climent, J. B. (2010). Reflections on Competence-Based Education. Revista Complutense de Educación, 21(1), 91-106. Ferrer-Cerveró, V., Cabrera-Santacana, O. E., Alegre-Beneria, R. M., Montané-Lopez, A., Sánchez-Valverde, C., & Alaiz-Chueca, E. (2014). El perfil del emprendedor social del estudiantado de los Grados de Educación Social, Pedagogía y Trabajo Social en la Universidad de Barcelona. Revista d'Innovació y Recerca en Educació, 7(1), 11-29. Gil, J. (1993). La metodología de investigación mediante grupos de discusión. Enseñanza, 10-11, 199-214. González, J., & Wagenaar, R. (2003). Tuning Educational Structures in Europe. Informe Final. Fase Uno. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto. Hager, P., & Gonczi, A. (1994). General issues about assessment of competence. Assessment and evaluation in Higher Education, 19, 3-17. Krueger, R. A. (1991). El grupo de discusión: guía práctica para la investigación aplicada. Madrid: Pirámide. Marina, J. A. (2010). The entrepreneurship competence, Revista de Educación, 351, 49-71. OECD. (2005). The Definition and Selection of Key Competencies (DeSeCo). Executive Summary. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/lgoiOUO Palmer, A., Montaño, J. J., & Palou, M. (2009). Generic skills in higher education. Comparative study of the views of employers and academics. Psicothema, 21(3), 433-438. Paul, J. J., Teichler, U., & Van der Velden, R. (2000). Higher Education and Graduate Employment. European Journal of Education, 35(2), 309-319. Schomburg, H., & Teichler, U. (2006). Higher Education and Graduate Employment in Europe. Results from Graduates Surveys from Twelve Countries. Dordrecht: Springer. Viera, A., Pérez, A., & Paredes, M. (2008). La Pedagogía Crítica y las competencias de emprendedurismo en estudiantes universitarios. Pensamiento y Gestión, 24, 43-62. Villa, A., & Poblete, M. (2008). Aprendizaje basado en competencias. Una propuesta para la evaluación de competencias genéricas. Bilbao: Ediciones Mensajero.
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