The limits of higher education institutions as sites of work skill development

Tholen, G. (2018). The limits of higher education institutions as sites of work skill development. Studies in Higher Education,

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Where do workers with Higher Education (HE) degrees develop their work skills? Although few would expect these to be developed in HE exclusively, there exists an assumption that the core skills of those working in graduate occupations are predominantly formed at HE. This article examines how within four graduate occupations, employers and workers assess the extent HE is thought to develop the skills and knowledge used within the work process. It draws on occupational case studies on the work of laboratory-based scientists, software engineers, financial analysts and press officers, using interview data with workers, employers and stakeholders. The study shows that structural barriers prevent HE to take a significant part in work-skill and knowledge development, but also that HE is not necessarily heavily relied upon for skill formation. More precaution is required for those who would like to directly link the skills demands for graduate work with the skills that are developed or associated at university.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in 'Studies in Higher Education' on 2018, available online:
Publisher Keywords: graduate occupations, graduate skills, labour market, skill development, work-based learning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology

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