Mindset or Skill-set? What media employers think about graduate employability

This source preferred by Christa Van Raalte

Authors: Van Raalte, C.

Start date: 19 September 2013

Universities, and particularly those offering degrees with an explicitly vocational focus, are increasingly concerned with the issue of employability. In the UK, the introduction of significantly higher fees has driven the notion of the ‘graduate premium’ to the top of the educational agenda, raising the spectre of an impoverished, instrumentalist approach for many educators.

Similar concerns are echoed in Universities across Europe and the United States – nowhere more so than in media and communications departments. In preparing students for a sector where careers are notoriously unpredictable and competitive, many academics feel under pressure to equip them with a formidable armoury of discipline-specific skills and knowledge. However, these are also fluid, fast changing industries, in need of adaptable, agile, creative individuals. A pedagogical approach that focuses too narrowly on skill-set may ‘back-fire’ if it impedes the development of the equally important, through less quantifiable, mindset graduates need to succeed.

This paper presents a study undertaken by four Universities based in the UK, Sweden and the US, which interrogates the perspectives of media employers regarding graduate attributes and deficits, and attempts to resolve some of the apparent contradictions contained therein.

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