Employability skills: Perspectives from a knowledge-intensive industry

Collet, Christopher, Hine, Damian, & du Plessis, Karen (2015) Employability skills: Perspectives from a knowledge-intensive industry. Education and Training, 57(5), pp. 532-559.

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While the global education debate remains focused on graduate skills and employability, the absence of a shared language between student, academic and industry stakeholder groups means that defining industry skills requirements is both essential and difficult. The aim of this study was to assess graduate skills requirements in a knowledge intensive industry from a demand perspective as distinct from a curriculum (supply) viewpoint.


Skills items were derived from a breadth of disciplines across academic, policy and industry literature. CEOs and senior managers in the innovation and commercialisation industry were surveyed regarding perceptions of skills in graduates and skills in demand by the firm. Two rounds of exploratory factor analyses were undertaken to examine employers’ perceptions of the skills gap.


First order analysis resolved 10 broad constructs that represent cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills domains as applied in this industry. Knowledge, leadership and interprofessional collaboration feature as prominent skills. Second order analysis revealed employers’ perceptions of graduate skills specifically centre on organisational fit and organisational success. An over-arching theme relates to performance of the individual in organisations.

Research limitations/implications:

Our findings suggest that the discourse on employability and the design of curriculum need to shift from instilling lists of skills towards enabling graduates to perform in a diversity of workplace contexts and expectations centred on organisational purpose.


In contrast to the heterogeneous nature of industry surveys, we targeted a homogenous sector that is representative of knowledge intensive industries. This study contributes to the broader stakeholder dialogue of the value and application of graduate skills in this and other industry sectors.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
1 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 84718
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Employability skills, Graduate performance, Knowledge-based industry, Organisational fit, Organisational success, Exploratory factor analysis
DOI: 10.1108/ET-07-2014-0076
ISSN: 0040-0912
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
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Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright Statement: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Deposited On: 11 Jun 2015 04:16
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2017 14:44

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