Special issue


In an uncertain labour market, the questions around the employability of graduate students take on a new urgency. Fears about the graduate market in the coming years are acute and are compounded by a sense that there is a large disconnect between a university education and what is expected in the workplace. Australian labour market trends clearly demonstrate that the skills most in demand by Australian graduate employers are precisely the transferrable skills which are honed by doing a HASS degree at the university. However, HASS academics do not usually talk about the skills and attributes students are gaining during their university studies and how this is useful in the workplace. Creating this awareness in both staff and students is immensely important for future graduates to survive and excel beyond university. Based on focus groups, interviews, and student-led projects over the last three years, this paper explores how to balance the need to engage with deep disciplinary knowledge with the understanding that this knowledge is only useful in the real world if accompanied by explicit skills. By using a case study, this paper showcases how to articulate skills and knowledge to HASS students to prepare for workforce. Furthermore, it focusses on how graduate attributes and learning outcomes can be connected from assessment tasks to classroom teaching.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The HASS academics should more explicitly articulate the soft skills students usually attain through university HASS degree, volunteering or professional experience and broader life experience. It is time for us, the academics to demonstrate and articulate the valuable contribution our students are capable of making.
  2. HASS should be more celebrated and should be included explicitly in the social discourse in order to change the quality of contemporary debate regarding the HASS disciplines.
  3. This paper presents a case study of a Program which includes a specific workshop series entitled Learning to Learn which has been developed to address the perceived stigma reported by students by empowering them to articulate what transferrable skills are linked to discipline knowledge in the study of the humanities. This program is also designed to explore concepts of employability, transferable skills and a drive to excel in Arts education.
  4. We take the view that Students’ background and precious experience should be recognised and utilised to increase their learning potential and enrich the learning environment. This is something students often indicate is missing from regular teaching pedagogies used in classrooms settings. One of the major components of ‘Learning to Learn’ is the personal SWOT (strengths vs weaknesses vs opportunities vs threats) analysis. Learners need to know themselves and their abilities ‘as a learner’. This self-awareness is significant for further growth and development. This also lays a strong foundation for them to become lifelong learners.
  5. This paper proposes Four W Approach, as a means of bringing the focus back to students and being curious about their experience and intentions. It asks very simple questions. However, these questions start a robust and ongoing discussion around aspirations and achievements. These questions are fluid. Hence these can be used in different stages of student life to help students to connect their personal interests and objectives with their academic journey taken in the university and the professional trajectory beyond university.