Work experience: Business students' voice!
Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) Incorporated.
Faculty of Business and Law
Faculty Office (FBL)
Aligning business undergraduate programs with industry skill and work requirements is reshaping higher education. It is now an acknowledged and strategic initiative to react to business demands in the education sphere. The framework for learning generic skills has been well developed and documented in reference to employer groups and articulated through many university programs. However, the development, monitoring and evaluation of these skills uptake using student views are not well documented. This paper presents university students‘ perceptions of their personal generic skills capabilities. The literature addresses the need for these skills to be inclusive of both personal attributes in conjunction with requisite technical abilities. Clearly defining and understanding these personal attributes has been a challenge for educators. The paper offers student feedback to further develop our understanding of the specific skills required in the work place from students‘ perspectives. Focus group discussions using business students were conducted at the completion of a client project that involved creating a strategic business plan. Overall results stressed the pivotal role of client contact and a more realistic learning environment created via work experience. Students stated that traditional assessments did not create a level of enthusiasm and interest to learn when compared to the client work project. In addition, students noted that working in a team, for a real client and with ‗real deadlines‘ highlighted the necessity for personal skills development. The results from this study will be merged with data collected on employability skills to develop a framework to monitor the development of student skills across a defined study period. The framework is designed to assist students to be accountable for their own employability skills development. Students should engage in both academic content requirements but, also in their own personal development process within a monitored and self managed framework. The transference of personal attributes and skills is reshaping academic practice in course development and has added a new dimension to teaching.