Transferable skills are the characteristics or virtues that one acquires and later applies in an employment setting (Princeton.edu, 2017). Many of these skills are gathered in the school through interaction with peers and teachers and also through reading books and other literature. Transferable skills readily place a person in a better position for employment and also to rise in ranks in the workplace. The acquisition of these skills differs among people, and they are likely to exhibit themselves better in students who are eager to learn and those who envision leadership in the future. Other transferable skills that are useful for employability include time management, organizational skills, interpersonal skills and communication skills. Students with these skills are likely to retain them even after college. However, the skills may change due to the influence of myriad social factors. Nonetheless, transferable skills are sought after by employers, and there is a need for students to express them right from the start in their college years.
There is an argument whether transferable skills are learnt or inherent (Gentry et.al., 2012, 6). Some people argue that leaders are born while others say that leaders are made. The transferable skill in this statement is leadership. Leadership may take many forms ranging from directing other people to making substantial advents in innovation and technology. Renowned political leaders like Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln shot into the leadership limelight because of their extraordinary manner of directing others. They had passed through an education system with other students who did not perform as excellent as they did. Real-world experiences support the theory that people with outstanding skills are inherently born with this ability, and it is augmented as they pass through an education system. Many other people who have shown leadership in areas other than political like Bill Gates an Warren Buffet are born with special capability that they exploit to make impressive strides in the world of academia, technology and business.
Schoemaker, Krupp and Howard (2013, 131) outline the six characteristics of effective leaders. They include anticipation, decision making, interpretation, challenging, alignment, and learning. Similar sentiments are aired by Drucker (2004, 46) in his analysis of effective executive officers. Leadership skills develop in person at a very tender age. In a typical persons life, one passes through many stages, some of which are spent in the company of others. In the kindergarten playground, leaders tend to invent new games and solve problems that other children could not. Leaders are made captains in schools and prefects by their teachers. They are likely to influence and command respect in middle school and attract awe in college. In the workplace, leaders get quick promotions and easily become team leaders as early as in their internship years. Ultimately, they become company CEO and directors since they possess the correct attributes for such posts. A leader at any level of human growth possesses the characteristics that Schoemaker and colleagues describe. Decision making is perhaps the most striking characteristics that leaders have and it is easily discernible when they are in the company of peers.
Unlike leadership, communication skills are learnt more than they are inherited (Maguire & Pitceacthly, 2002, 697). Developing effective methods of communication calls for extensive research, reading, dedication, and building up of grammar. Students who are keen to learn and who draw inspiration from eloquent speakers develop excellent communication skills that are transferable in a work setting outside school. Research has however shown that undertaking research alone does not improve communication skills in university students (Carter et al., 2016, 363). Contrary to the expected, students involved in research will incorporate communication skills as they elicit information from their study participants. This opinion holds event true when the research in question is qualitative. Communication skills thus follow a persons inherent ability to listen, research, and speak (Stephenson, 2017, 2). Communication includes more than just listening and responding. It is also expressing openness, accepting corrections, and passing across ideas. Some of these characteristics are hardly learnt in school and follow ones capability. When asked about the most common discipline specific transferable skills likely to be learnt in school, university chemistry students cited oral communication among others (Williams & Handa, 2016, 211). Oral communication is a small portion of communication skills that are needed in a workplace environment.
Other transferable skills that employers look for in graduates are time management, interpersonal skills, critical thinking and decision making. The work environment is characteristically different from the school environment. It requires internal personal commitment to excel. Employers look for people who are self-motivated and can work without supervision (Gegni & Deci, 2005, 335). In the school environment, transferable skills are optional and make relatively insignificant contribution to the academic success. In the workplace, however, these skills are the core of organizational performance. They determine the employee productivity and eventually the companys overall success. They supplement hard work and make employee integration possible. In the school, they are various methods of acquiring or augmenting transferable skills. The education policy may determine how students view these skills. The education that meets the international standards instills these attributes to students more than the one which is locally standardized. In the same way, internationalization of education and the subsequent exposure of student to multiple cultural systems allows them to develop universally transferable skills (Jones, 2013, 97). This observation explains why students from international university possess and apply transferable skills better than their counterparts in local universities. A learning environment with people hailing from diverse cultures mimics a workplace staffed with people of various ages, ethnicities and perspectives (Jones, 2013, 99).
Transferable Skills in Learning
Universities and colleges are breeding grounds for leaders in business, politics and social matters. They are the places in which students are equipped with the necessary academic and nonacademic resources to enable them to succeed in their careers. The current education system in many universities and colleges is fashioned in a manner that renders a student proactive in the learning process. This proactivity concomitantly equips students with very important attributes of hard work, time management, personal organization and eagerness to learn. The student industrial placement and pre-service internships, that many learning institutions have made mandatory, play a key role in molding students as employable citizens and prepare them for their future careers (National Education Council, 2013, 1).
In school, there are numerous areas that I believe are potential grounds for the development of transferable skills. One activity is class attendance. Strict adherence to the school timetable is something that many students fail to do. The school timetable puts every lesson in a specific time period and allows students to meet with their instructors in a class environment. Many students have other commitments during class hours and often fail to attend all classes as required. However, other students make their plans according to the timetable, and strictly adhere to the allocated time for each lecture. In a workplace environment, there is also a timeline and a duty roster that states where each employee is assigned at which time. An employee who developed a habit of following the class time table in school is more likely to adhere to the duty roster as compared to their colleagues who did not effectively manage their class time.
Group discussions are the best incubation grounds for developing teamwork spirit and sharpening ones interpersonal skills (Shah, 2013, 300). I have observed that when instructors give assignments in groups, students are eager to meet their peers and showcase their argumentative and reasoning acumen. Discussion groups allow introvert students to speak and contribute their ideas to the discussion. Consequently, they gain confidence and improve their communication skills.
Science congresses and other academic fares organized by the school are potential learning grounds for transferable skills. I developed communication skills and public speaking after attending a science fare organized by the students council last year. In my preparation for my presentation, I noted that I did thorough research and consulted widely to make an impressive argument. I also noted that I argued out facts in making the presentation and thus became a good critical thinker. Many students who have made presentations in career fares end up being leaders in the market which is facilitated by their persuasion skills. Preparing and making presentations is a common activity in a workplace setup. Just like in school, presenting intellectual material before people calls for intensive preliminary research and critical thinking. Therefore, career fares are potential areas of skills development.
Another important academic activity that molds a persons employability skills is student leadership. Often, a person who is elected to head students in a campus possesses leadership skills. In the process of campaigning, prospective student leaders draft budgets and establish a winning strategy. Following up and implementing this budget is a rare skill that employers look for in potential employees. Workers in an organizational ought to have financial management skills that can be developed from college. Strategic organization is also a key skill that develops in the course of student campaigning and leadership.
Finally, undergraduate research is a viable avenue for developing employability skills. Beside written and oral communication acumen that develops during research, a student undertaking quantitative research uses complex computer software to analyze data. Further, they develop report writing skills and the composition of persuasive letters when seeking for research funding. Imploring participants to avail data calls for effective interpersonal skills, which enable a researcher to gain confidence of their research subjects. I have observed that having the right mixture of interpersonal skills improves how researchers conduct their interviews when they are required. Undergraduate research is also a moment when a student understands the need for ethical conduct in and out of school. Due to the current increment of corporate legal battles, employers are looking for employee who can conduct themselves ethically when dealing with customers and stakeholders.
List of References
Carter, D.F., Ro, H.K., Alcott, B. and Lattuca, L.R., 2016. Co-Curricular Connections: The Role of Undergraduate Research Experiences in Promoting Engineering Students Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership Skills. Research in Higher Education, 57(3), pp.363-393.
Drucker, P. F. (2004). What makes an effective executive? Harvard Business Review, 58-63.
Jones, E., 2013. Internationalization and employability: The role of intercultural experiences in the development of transferable skills. Public Money & Management, 33(2), pp.95-104.
Gagne, M. and Deci, E.L., 2005. Selfdetermination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational behavior, 26(4), pp.331-362.
Gentry, W., Deal, J.J., Stawiski, S. and Ruderman,...
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