Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on Modern Research in Education, Teaching and Learning
Development of the Employability Skills Assessment
The 21st century skills, also known as employability or soft skills, are a set of skills that recent graduates and other employees should possess to be successful in the workplace. They often include skills such as problem solving, teamwork, and communication. Internationally, numerous organizations have repeatedly stressed the importance of these skills for workplace success and economic development, while at the same time pointing to a perceived misalignment between the skill set of recent graduates and what is needed by industry employers. Specific to the United Arab Emirates, there exists an additional pressure to meaningfully integrate citizens into industry through high quality employment in a country where Emiratis remain a small minority and where there is a history of dependence on foreign labour.
The challenge facing universities and industry is that these employability skills are notoriously difficult to teach and assess. Currently there is no trustworthy method available to industry for assessing this set of skills. Building on earlier research conducted with the Computing Professional Skills Assessment, this paper describes the initial development of the Employability Skills Assessment, a tool designed for industry to use in the assessment of these skills amongst their new employees. Through a pilot implementation with information technology students at a national university, results indicate that student groups performed at or near the expected level, but also that the assessment tool requires further modification so that meaningful performance at the individual level can be measured. This further refinement should make the instrument more viable for industry partners as they attempt to assess the employability skills of their new employees.
keywords: 21st century skills, employability, quality assurance, assessment