Faculty of Business and Law
Office of Associate Dean - Teaching and Learning (FBL)
Purpose – The need for “job-ready” graduates has catalysed the development of non-technical skills in higher education institutions worldwide. Continued criticism of business school outcomes has provoked this examination of non-technical skill deficiencies in Australian business graduates. The purpose of this paper is to compare findings with existing literature on skill gaps in other developed, culturally-similar economies, underscore the generality of identified problems, and highlight to stakeholders in undergraduate education those areas requiring curricula review. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 211 managers/supervisors of business graduates and 156 business academics assessed the typical performance levels of Australian business graduates against a comprehensive framework of 20 skills and 45 associated workplace behaviours. Ratings were examined within and across the two samples and variations analysed by work area, business activity and business discipline. Findings – Some differences were detected between academic and employer skill ratings of certain workplace behaviours. Respondents agreed that although graduates are confident and proficient in certain non-technical skills, they are deficient in vital elements of the managerial skill set. There were differences in employer ratings across certain business activities and work areas but none detected in academic ratings from different business disciplines. Originality/value – Findings broadly align with literature from previous studies, highlighting the generality of presented skill deficiencies. The study suggests that although business schools are producing well-rounded graduates, they are overlooking the development of certain non-technical skills deemed essential in managers. This urges curricula reform and raises questions on who is responsible for developing work readiness in graduates. The implications of differing perceptions of graduate performance are discussed.