Effective Communication Skills; the Missing Link in Enhancing Employability of STEM Graduates
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Effective Communication Skills; the Missing Link in Enhancing Employability of STEM Graduates. By Sindiso Zhou & Nhlanhla Landa.

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Effective Communication Skills; the Missing Link in Enhancing Employability of STEM Graduates

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Effective communication skills the missing link in enhancing employability of stem graduates

Effective Communication Skills; the Missing Link in Enhancing Employability of STEM Graduates

By Sindiso Zhou & Nhlanhla Landa

2nd National Science and Mathematics Education Conference: Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); 20 – 22 August 2014, Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe


Presentation outline

PRESENTATION OUTLINE

  • Introduction and Background

  • Objectives

  • Definitions

  • Employability Framework

  • Conclusions and recommendations


Introduction and background

Introduction and background

  • The single most critical problem facing STEM graduates in the world today is that of securing and retaining employment

  • Employability extends beyond securing a job, into performance and retention of that job (Knight and York, 2002)

  • Another problem is finding useful graduates who add value, develop and grow in STEM fields


Introduction cont

Introduction cont...

  • STEM subjects are abstract by nature

  • Facilitation of transfer and implementation of scientific, technological, and mathematical knowledge in industry demands deliberate, rigorous and continuous practice in effective communication skills

  • Transferring course material (study) into personal and professional development of our students is vital yet problematic

  • Employability concerns itself with individuals’ ability to find, retain, and be successful in chosen employment (not directly taught in the curriculum)


Objectives

OBJECTIVES

  • Define employability

  • Describe effective communication skills

  • Link employability (industry requirements) with effective communication skills

  • Outline job seeking and job retention skills


Critical questions

CRITICAL QUESTIONS

  • Is our curriculum responding to the job market?

  • If so, is this link between curriculum and career paths explicit to the learner?

  • Are our teaching methods moulding an employable individual?

  • When we release graduates into the labour market, are they career ready?

  • Do our students understand the value of Higher Education beyond immediate subject area?

  • Are learning outcomes explicitly linked to employability?


Defining employability

DEFINING EMPLOYABILITY

  • Soft/qualitative skills

  • Workforce/career readiness skills

  • Core skills necessary for success in the workplace

  • forces of attraction in industry (what makes you tick as an engineer, doctor, technician, computer programmer)


Key skills in stem careers

KEY SKILLS IN STEM CAREERS

There are three broad skills;

  • Applied knowledge

  • academic/course knowledge as applicable to real life situations

  • practical application of theory gained in HE

  • Effective Communication Skills

  • Effective Communication Skills such as proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking

  • Interpersonal interaction

  • Workplace skills

  • Critical Analysis and evaluation

  • Information Literacy and ICT knowledge


Key communication skills for stem careers

KEY COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR STEM CAREERS

  • Cognitive skills

    Involve:

  • being able to identify, analyze and solve problems from a body of information and from organizational relationship trends

  • Being able to assess data and draw logical conclusions


Key communication skills for stem careers cont

KEY COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR STEM CAREERS cont.

2. Communication and ICT;

Involve:

  • Teamwork

  • Conflict resolution

  • Interpersonal sensitivity

  • Information handling skills

  • Presentation skills

  • Self management

  • Time management


Key communication skills for stem careers cont1

KEY COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR STEM CAREERS cont.

3. Practical and professional skills – using experience to understand:

  • organizational culture,

  • organizational policies

  • organizational processes


Employability framework

EMPLOYABILITY FRAMEWORK

  • Enhancing employability involves developing skills through curriculum – revisiting the curriculum to link learning outcomes with employability.

    - Is attention necessarily drawn to the employability qualities that our courses develop?

  • Beyond that, employability also involves giving students a language to communicate effectively and successfully with their employers about their skills, knowledge and career potential.


Employability framework cont

EMPLOYABILITY FRAMEWORK cont.

  • While different STEM qualifications are the requirement to get a job, the workplace is a communication network in which;

    - there is less theory and more practice

    - abstract material should be concretized

    - there is interaction with real people and real problems

  • to survive the above, one needs effective communication skills to bridge the gap between theory and practice


Job seeking expertise

JOB SEEKING EXPERTISE

  • Searching for vacancies online and offline

  • Completing application forms

  • drafting covering letters and Curriculum Vitae/Resume in response to vacancies

  • Preparing for interviews

  • Interview etiquette


Job retention skills

JOB RETENTION SKILLS

To sustain employability (staying and succeeding in a job) involves more than being qualified – it involves several communication skills;

  • Presentation skills

  • Conflict resolution skills

  • Report writing skills

  • Persuasive engagement/Team work

  • Cultural consciousness/sensitivity

  • Time management and Self management

  • All the above constitute effective communication skills


Conclusions

CONCLUSIONS

  • Our curriculum, from secondary to tertiary education, is largely silent about employability issues, yet it should consciously integrate employability as a critical component so as to avoid unemployable graduates

  • Effective communication skills are taught in passing yet they should be a compulsory component from entry to exit point in teaching and learning institutions


Recommendations

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Programme audit – to check;

    - What employability skills are developed through course material?

    - How are the learning outcomes of your programme linked to employability skills?

  • HEIs should come up with checklists for course development teams and programme committees to link learning objectives and outcomes with employability potential of graduates.

  • Communication skills courses should not be limited to basic communication but extend to include communication for specific occupational purposes.


Effective communication skills the missing link in enhancing employability of stem graduates

THANK YOU

SIYABONGA

TATENDA


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