Defining and measuring employability

Kerry Taffe

Defining and measuring employability

October 18, 2016      

In order to look at this issue we have to determine what employability means. When I read this topic it reminded me of my days at Teachers college when students were asked to choose a major and the Students’ advisor recommended that we choose areas that are employable or in demand. At the time it did not resonate until I chose mathematics and ended up in a class with approximately 20 out of a cohort of roughly 250 students; bearing in mind that there were only about six or so areas to choose from. It’s no rocket science to figure out which set of students, from this cohort would be most likely to be employable on the job market.


Employability is said to have its originated from the word employable which means a person who is able to be employed; usable (

The UK commission for Employment and skills (UKCES) defines employability in terms of skills and stated that employability is the skills almost everyone needs to do almost any job.

Robinson (2000) states that employability skills are necessary for getting, keeping and doing well on a job. He further stated that these are the skills, attitudes and actions that enable workers to get along with their fellow workers and supervisors and make sound, critical decisions. They are generic in nature rather than job specific and cut across all industry types, business sizes and job – levels from the entry level worker to the senior most position.

Harvey (2001) stated it is the employers who convert the ‘employability’ of graduate into employment.

However, while searching through the literature I came to realise that the term marketable, though it differs in meaning from employability, were in essence basically the same. Employability skills are a set of skills and behaviours that are necessary for every job. Employability skills are sometimes called soft skills, foundational skills, work-readiness skills, or job-readiness skills. Therefore, let’s look at the definitions provided here. UKCES talks about employability skills but what exactly are these because these are skills that are needed for everyone whether you are employed or unemployed.

Employability skills

So what are these employability skills that UKCES is talking about? Allen (2011) broke it down into two segments in an article for UKCES as follow:

Personal attributes

  1. A positive attitude: a ‘can do’ approach, good work ethic and willingness to learn
  2. Good personal presentation
  3. Honesty and integrity
  4. Reliability
  5. Timekeeping and personal organisation
  6. Team working, collaboration and co-operation
  7. Flexibility
  8. Commercial awareness and customer focus


  1. Communication – oral and written
  2. Numeracy
  3. Computer literacy/IT skills.

Robinson (2000) posited that these are skills that are teachable. Therefore, the challenge for current and prospective employees is to learn how to master these skills because if they are not learnt, they can present themselves as barriers to future employment prospects and act as deterrent to job advancement in ones’ workplace.

Robinson’s argument that soft skills are pervasive from entry level to managerial level is very logical; because, an employee at a senior level who cannot communicate effectively with workers at lower levels poses a problem to the effective running of that organization and create barriers. When one speaks about employability skills you will also have to look at the concerns that persons such as recent graduates or persons who were previously employed face. For these sets barriers are created when they possess low confidence, lack of recent work reference, bad experiences of work or even gaps on their cv. They will have to simply learn how to become employable.

In this aspect I agree with Harvey that employability should be based on an individual’s employability skills rather than the institution which the person graduated from. As is referenced above and what we have previously learnt in other aspects of this course is that soft skills matter and they are integral in being effective as an employee; as well as, in establishing meaningful and effective employee relationships. Skills such as having to learn how to develop a positive attitude -by adopting a can do approach for those employed; in cases like these a supervisor’s recommendation matters and will in turn give a heavier weighting in ones’ employability. There has to be a willingness to learn for those who are making themselves available to be employed. Good personal presentation- it is important to look, act and dress the part. Timekeeping and personal organization is another tick on the positive side of employability- be on time and manage time efficiently in order to be effective. Practice good work ethics, promote teamwork and collaboration. You may even not think much of this but be aware of your organizational goals- do you know the organizations’ mission and vision statements.

Measuring employability

Employability though is being measured according to Harvey (2001) by two pragmatic measures. First, the insistence that ‘employability’ should be measured by outcomes in the form of recent graduate employment rates. Secondly, the tendency to slide into a view that employability is an institutional achievement rather than the propensity of the individual student to get employment.

Harvey further critiqued that most explicit and implicit definitions of employability elaborate or overlay this core notion in any or all of the following main ways:

Job type. For some employability is about securing any job. For others it implies getting a graduate-level job.

Timing. Is employability signalled by getting a job within a specified time after graduating, or by doing so before there is any need for retraining?

Attributes on recruitment. This is widely dependent on what the employer is looking for especially in an interview or other recruitment processes.

Further learning. This as was mentioned above involves willingness to learn and continue learning.

Employability skills. As mentioned as above refers to the soft skills needed to perform a specific job.

Looking at these five factors I would say that since employability skills are teachable I would not agree to this as a benchmark to be used as a measurement for the possibility of being employed. As it relates to attributes on recruitment employers are realising that they have to be more strategic and proactive when recruiting and selecting employees for their workforce. For example; it wouldn’t make sense to employ a person for a secretarial post if the person does not have a strong command of the English language in an orally as well as written format. The trend of institutionalizing when it comes on to selecting suitable employees in our society may be more pervasive than we realise and so I agree that to some extent in Jamaica graduates from HE institutions such as U.W.I. are more likely to be selected from a pool of applicants rather than graduates from other local institutions. The aspect of further learning is a tricky one. The other day I was interviewed by one of our broad band network suppliers and one of the questions I was asked was; “How do I expect the company to help me become the best employee?” I was pleasantly surprised. This was my second interview since I became employable and I realised that companies are shifting towards what Harvey stated in his research that executives are now ensuring that they create the ultimate workforce by recognizing from the recruiting stage what it is exactly that they want in an employee. Even in our schools today, Administrators are moving away from just employing a teacher, and moving towards employing a teacher that is, trained in the area of the vacancy being filled. However, sometimes because of factors of unavailability you might find a mismatch occurring. The question here then is whether or not this is true? Is it an institutional/ achievement or an individual achievement or does it have to do with the factors listed above that creates the high levels of employability of graduates from Higher Education institutions. Harvey is of the view though that:

“Where a definition of individual employability of a graduate alludes to graduate attributes it implies that individuals have, and are able to demonstrate, them in order to obtain jobs. However, attributes, and the ability to demonstrate them when required, (i) may already have been acquired before undertaking a higher education programme and just need honing, (ii) may be in the process of being developed or (iii) may be missing altogether. Each case has different implications for attempts to measure and enhance employability. Traditionally, graduate recruitment programmes assumed (ii) and (iii) to hold and were premised on a willingness of the trainees to learn rapidly. Such programmes tended to be filled with ‘bright’ or ‘exceptional’ (young) graduates from prestigious universities”.

Do students that attend U.W.I, N.C.U or UTECH have an advantage over graduates from other colleges or universities? Do you think that employers are more inclined to hire graduates from the UWI than from let’s say MICO although they have the same degree? The issue of how to measure employability when you look at individualized employable as it takes into considerations factors such as type of HE institution, mode of study, location and mobility, subject of study, previous work experience, age, ethnicity, gender and social class

Robinson (2000) stated that employers are looking to create an empowered and high performance workforce that can compete in today’s marketplace. Employees with these skills are in demand and are considered valuable human capital assets to companies.

What are your views?



Harvey, L. (2001). Quality in Higher Education. Vol. 7, No. 2 Retrieved October 12,2016.








Defining and measuring employability

Employers lament lack of soft skills in graduates

The article highlighted the growing concern, as well as problems regarding in Vietnam where employers have for too long complained about a lack of soft skills among university graduates. The author further input that it is widely documented that the relationship between higher education institutions and students has moved away from the traditional scholarly one and towards a more consumer based one. This requires institutions to adjust their approach in order to meet the needs of their students – that means ensuring they have the skills necessary to find jobs when they graduate.

The author presented arguments: (1) the importance of soft skills in the workplace require graduates to have good communication skills, teamwork and personal skills and to demonstrate such characteristics as taking initiative and being proactive (2) the quality of university graduates still needs improvement in training and providing students with soft skills. (3) Students’ perception about soft skills is that universities are not equipping them sufficiently with such skills.

Finally, the author highlighted a number of factors that hinder development of students’ soft skills at universities. First, the teaching methods employed in higher education institutions have been criticized as being quite traditional, dominated by rote learning – that is, memorization and reproduction of information provided in a lecture format. Second, the main duty of students in many universities is still to sit quietly in classes, taking notes from whatever the teacher says. They then re-learn this information at home and reproduce the information in assignments and examinations. Finally, the problem is growing bigger as universities fail to engage sufficiently with what employers want, meaning they find it hard to decide which skills they should teach.


Impact of the Issues

According to Robles, (2012), soft skills encompass character traits, attitudes, and behaviours rather than technical aptitude or knowledge. Soft skills are increasingly becoming required skills for success in today’s workforce; no longer are exceptional technical skills enough. Without developing the softer interpersonal and relationship-building skills that help people to communicate and collaborate effectively, students will find themselves unable to find or continue in a job.


Below is a representation of the different soft skills

According to James and James (2004), Soft skills are described as being intangible, nontechnical, personality-specific skills that help ascertain one’s strengths in leadership, facilitating, mediating and negotiating. In defining soft skills, Deepa & Seth, (2013), stated that these skills refer to personality traits, attributes; high levels of commitment to the job that would make the applicant stand out ahead of his peers.  It is strongly suggested that the employability of the graduates today is dependent on the skills that they possess.

            I concur with the author that to ensure success, students entering the twenty-first century workforce must possess non-technical soft skills along with technical competence. The problem of transference of soft skills to the work setting is also evident in the local setting, as employers have opined about their disappointment with the employment readiness level of students of a local universities. Taylor-Stone (2008), supported the authors’ claims that Jamaica was producing workers who were knowledge-based than competency-based. Taylor-Stone referred to knowledge-based skills as the technical skills that demonstrate practical knowledge, and competency-based skills as combining critical thinking, and problem-solving with other technical skills. The lack of competency-based skills, which incorporate soft skills, is an integral factor hindering students from acquiring employment after graduation. Taylor- Stone noted that the supply of workers from tertiary institutions cannot suit the demands of the workforce due to irrelevant curriculum. Identifying the soft skills needs and helping students to meet the requirements of employers is congruent to closing the soft skills gap.


This picture states clearly, skills to pay the bills. While credentials (degrees and certificates) are important, it is the development of soft skills (those that are more social than technical) that is critical in getting a well pay job that will enable one to take care of his/her basic needs.

Additionally, there are three main issues emerging from this review. First, the importance of soft skills in the workplace requires graduates to have good communication skills, teamwork and personal skills and to demonstrate such characteristics as taking initiative and being proactive.

In career terms, soft skills soften the edges and provide a competitive advantage over others. However, those who ignore this critical aspect of personality learn its importance the hard way when their promotion is overlooked. Moreover, the key to having a winning attitude is readiness to face and tackle obstacles and challenges that come our way. For example, instead of complaining about a stressful workload, one may think about it as an opportunity to show off one’s abilities and getting through it productively and efficiently.

Second, the quality of university graduates still needs improvement in training and providing students with soft skills. I concur with the author that there are a number of factors that hinder development of students’ soft skills at universities. The university curriculum and teaching methods have not been positively supportive of the soft skill development of students. The traditional teaching method of transmitting knowledge from teachers to students, the exam oriented learning style, the assessment based on the exam designed for repeating the knowledge provided in class have been quite traditional, dominated by rote learning – that is, memorization and reproduction of information provided in a lecture format all hindered students in developing their necessary soft skills to manage the actual communicative interactions at work and in life outside university. While scholars have found that some higher education graduates lack soft skills, there are some educators who integrate the skills in regular courses. However, the graduates may require additional training to function effectively on the job.

Third, the perception students’ have about soft skills is that universities are not equipping them sufficiently with such skills. There is a disparity in the perceptions of students and employers regarding the type of skills relevant for employment; students assume that acquisition of vocational skills defines readiness for the workforce, while employers are seeking to recruit employees who have well-rounded and highly competent vocational and nontechnical skills. The inconsistency of perceptions lies with the value placed on the nontechnical/soft skills. Hager and Holland (2006), have given a warning on this confusion. They suggest that the list of skills imposing into higher education worldwide could create the misunderstanding that these skills are discrete or atomic to be acquired and transferred singly. In practice, these skills and attributes ‘overlap and interweave like the threads in a carpet’ (p. 34). Moreover, the students’ expectation of being taught soft skills explicitly in the university do reflects their confusion in skill development. In addition, students’ ways of responding to the situation also revealed a prevalence of passiveness among them. Students need to understand that skills are accumulated and developed through class activities and university interactions outside class.



Soft skills are critical in today’s workplace and should be viewed as an investment. Although we see many challenges, we also have many opportunities to prepare university students for today’s workforce. Soft skills and hard skills should be integrated to create a well-rounded business graduate.

In short, improving soft skill development of university students requires the effort of all related stakeholders. First and foremost, it requires a shift in world view and in the thinking of parents, universities and also of individual students. More importantly, there is a call for the change in the education philosophy of the whole education system. The education system needs to help students to recognize that study is to explore and to develop personal capabilities, by not only to taking part in exams, and that good marks are not the main factor creating success for any student. As graduates compete for fewer jobs, universities must develop creative and innovative ways to give their graduates a competitive edge.



It may be difficult at first, but attempts should be made to address the situation. The curriculum needs to be reduced and updated and assessment processes need to be streamlined to introduce more practical, professional-based knowledge designed to reduce students’ struggles to move from higher education to employment. In addition, the teaching methodology, assessment design and the organization of in-class also need to change to help students become more autonomous, critical, interactive and effective learners so that they are in a better position to meet the needs of the contemporary market.



Deepa, S., & Seth, M. (2013). Do Soft Skills Matter ? Implications for Educators Based on    

Recruiters ’Perspective, 7–9. Retrieved from  

matter- implications-for-educators

Hager, P., & Holland, S. (2006). Graduate attributes learning and employability.

Dordrecht: Springer.

James, R. F. & James, M. L. (2004). Teaching career and technical skills in a “mini”

business world. Business Education Forum, 59(2), 39-41 Retrieved from

sequen ce=1&ts=1444199538271

Nguye, T. (2016).  Employers lament lack of soft skills in graduates Retrieved from

Robles, M. M. (2012). Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in

Today’s  Workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 453–456.


Taylor-Stone, L. (2008). Case studies of successful public-private partnerships for

education and workforce development: The case of Jamaica – HEART Trust NTA.

Retrieved from





Employers lament lack of soft skills in graduates

Should Student Attendance in Classes be Compulsory?


The ‘price’ paid for University tuition at times can be very hefty, and when one considers the various sacrifices that parents and students themselves make to attain higher level education there should be nothing that stands in the way of achieving this goal. With this in mind one may think that students would maintain a perfect record in terms of attending classes to maximize the possibility of performing at their utmost best in order not to disappoint themselves and  family members. On the contrary, this perceived ideal situation does not exist as students consistently skip classes and are deemed to be “phantom students”, who only make cameo appearances in lectures (Grove, 2016).  With this perceived blatant disregard for classes, the question is appropriately raised.  Should universities get tough and make attendance compulsory?  Personally, I would have enjoyed such freedom as there are many days after work feeling completely drained and have that desire for home, but then I am brought back to my reality that it is a matter of duty to be in class, and the University requires me to be present for at least 75% of my classes which is a part of my final assessment for sitting my exams.  Hence the dreaded journey is taken to meet this requirement (Student Handbook School of Education, 2015 -2016).

Though universities are taking steps to apply stricter guidelines for compliance, one Professor Bruce Macfarlane of higher education at the University of Southampton posits in his book, Freedom to Learn: The Threat to Students Academic Freedom and Why It Needs to be Reclaimed, that attendance proves nothing in terms of learning to Times Higher Education (Grove, 2016).  He argues that some of the best students engage very well with their studies, contribute to online discussions, while submitting  outstanding work.  Where on the other hand, some are just present in body only and their work reflects little work outside of class (Grove, 2016).   Sam Artley, who works in senior studying social relations and policy at Michigan State University, argues that she does not agree with mandatory attendance policies except in cases of lab work because it is usually completed in class with little work being done outside of the classroom (Osman, 2012).  I am of the opinion that there is a space for those who can operate with this type of independence, but what about those of us who need structure? Those who need hands-on guidance? Should we all just be placed  in the same category of these ‘elite’ students who do not need to be physically placed in a room with a lecturer imparting reasonable and pointed discussions for learning to take place?


Should Students go to Class?

The primary means of instruction will be achieved primarily through lectures and class meetings.  While there is little systematic evidence about attendance and its effects on students output, there are three questions that can be investigated.

  1. What is the extent of absenteeism?
  2. How much, if at all, does absenteeism affect learning?
  3. Should anything be done about absenteeism?



When the phenomenon is considered, it is possible that students may opt not to attend class because they learn relatively little if they did.  This could be as a result of the perceived low quality of instruction or they have already mastered the pertinent materials to be covered in the course (Dailey, 2016).  The converse could be that little importance is attached to learning which result in higher attendance not being achieved.  It has been circulated that a generation ago, both in principle and in practice, attendance at class was not optional, this was the norm in education. I do believe that this should remain in place for persons who are enrolled in regular classroom studies.  There is an avenue for persons who do not desire classroom setting when studying.  This is called online.  With this kind of diversity in education, students should opt to enroll in the type of studies that best suit their needs and fit into their learning styles.  Individuals entering these structured programmes are fully aware of the established guidelines, so compliance should be maintained during the course of studies.  Complete disregard for these established guidelines shows a level of disrespect to lecturers who spend extensively long hours preparing their lessons to share and when it is time for classes, these lecturers are greeted with an empty classroom (Absence from School, 2003).  It is with a scenario as such that I am in agreement with compulsory classroom attendance.


University Image

There are differing views among faculty and administrators regarding attendance policies for its students.  There are educators who will insist on enforcing compulsory attendance while others believe that attendance should not be compulsory (Grove, 2016).  What I am sure of is that faculty and school administrators want students enrolled for courses to attend scheduled classes.  The important component to consider here is the image that the institution will establish in the wider society.  So even if students do not attend classes and pass their exams or if they do not attend classes and fail their exams, the institution’s reputation will still be adversely affected.  With such an image created the institution will not attract students and they will experience reduced enrollment and eventually cease to exist (Osman, 2012).




Attending class arises from a decision which is influenced by motivational beliefs and class context.  An enjoyable class does not guarantee high academic achievement because students even in this setting may not feel capable of success.  Classrooms that engage students and emphasize the importance of their contribution, with content directly related to knowledge assessed will provide encouragement to students to attend classes regularly.  What is evident is that there is no empirical data to suggest that compulsory or non-compulsory class attendance have a positive or negative correlation with student’s success.



Absence from School. (2003, May). Research Report No. 424.

Student Handbook School of Education. (2015 -2016).

Dailey, R. (2016, October). What to Do about those absent students? Faculty Focus .

Grove, J. (2016). should student attendance in classes be compulsory.

Osman, R. (2012). Should Classroom attendance be Mandatory? Students, Professors say no.

Romer, D. (1993). Do students go to class? Should they? The Journal of Economics Perspectives , 7.3, 167-174.







Should Student Attendance in Classes be Compulsory?


“I know who I am, I know that I matter, I know what matters to me, I know I can make a difference in the world in my own unique way” Wolfson (2012) declared this pledge in her Ted Talk. I will urge all of us today to advocate for both genders to appreciate this same pledge. My article was created by Goodall and Osterloh (2015). They have centered their thoughts on “How To Redress The Gender Imbalance” in the United Kingdom (UK). Where in the 21st century women are still striving to be strongly represented in corporations, public sectors and universities. They have reported the dearth of female leaders, gender pay gap and absence of women on boards.  Jamaica experiences the opposite of this spectrum in the form of our males.

unhappy-black-woman      money-gender




The Situation

In the UK among the positions of vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors, women hold approximately 27% of these positions. Goodall and  Osterloh (2015) are in agreement with the proverb that says variety is the spice of life and a change should come with the percentage stated early. Research has proven, companies which have more females in the hierarchical positions outperform other entities.

According to Brown (2013) who observed the 2013 Global Gap Index report “Jamaica has the highest proportion of women to men in the combined category of ‘legislators, senior officials and managers’ anywhere in the world. It leads a group of only five countries, where women exceed men in those professions.” The UK was ranked 37th. The report mentioned Jamaica’s improvement was mainly because of development in the Economic Participation and the Political Empowerment sub- indices.

Image result for less men in high school

Jamaica sees a 50/50 capacity of both genders in elementary school but the older males get the higher the dropout rate.  Higher education allows both sex to have great contributions to the economy. Goldson (2015) pointed out the ratio of women to men at the University of the West Indies to be 70:30.

In my days society tried to foster boys into being men. Maybe this needs to be done on a wider scale. Giving them monitor positions in the classrooms with training, telling them to “try again don’t give up,” etc. We encourage these things in order to provoke the innate desire to take charge or dominate varying situations despite the social class they may be in. The bible tells us women were made from men. God did not give them that physical construct for it to be wasted. Let us groom them in the Jamaican situation as we cannot afford another “gunman” which affects everyone.

get-books-boys-wants-to-read                                                                    epa02171157 The police arrest several men in Mannings Hill Road, an area of Kingston, Jamaica, 24 May 2010. Two people died in the continuing serious unrest in the capital by groups opposed to the arrest and subsequent extradition to the U.S. of the drug trafficker Christopher "Dudus" Coke, according to the government. EPA/MARK BROWN


Experiments and situations  which show  women and men contributions matter.

Goodall and Osterloh (2015). Columbia Business School conducted a research which found that female representation in top management improves the strategic innovative performance by companies.

Image result for successful women

In Jamaica, most upper class family owned businesses have the males dominating the hierarchy. Thus at the head of the Private Sector of Jamaica (PSOJ) are mainly males. The common wholesales in our community mainly operated by the Chinese are governed by the males. Succession planning helps this success.

Image result for psoj meeting jamaica


Stereotyping of men which leads to bias promotions.

Both the UK and Jamaican share the idea of women doing well in managerial positions, however if a male is present in the organization, the promotion is more likely to go to him. This is the culture’s thinking for a number of reasons which include: men are the bread winners for their family, men need to be able to afford the finer things in life, they are less likely to be interrupted when speaking, they are not expected to smile, they may put more into work life than family life and the list goes on. All these norms create an idea of the perfect boss. In order to have fairness and equality promotion should be based on merit.

Image result for bias promotion towards men


Why is there a barrier for women and men?

  • Some of the factors cited in the UK were discrimination against women, stereotyping (easy going) and they will face family work.
  • In the Jamaican setting many of our men are not qualified hence they don’t have the right, skills, attitude or knowledge.

Image result for men who are not qualified  Image result for women who are abused in the workplace


Benefits of Gender Diversity in the Workforce.

Badal (2014) posits the advantages of gender diversity, they are:

  • Presenting different ideas, customer or product insights, this aid in efficiently solving problems. This leads to high performance.
  • Supporting easier access to resources, which include sources of credit, various forms of information and a wider scope to industry knowledge.
  • Fosters the company in having a wide array and diverse number of customers.
  • Having low attrition rates in the field which helps to save money time and resources. In the long term these organizations will be more efficient and effective.

Image result for successful company



A number of suggestions were given by Goodall and Osterloh (2015)  to successfully complete the redress. These include: offering the right incentives, internal versus external hiring, succession planning: taking the long view, appropriate management and leadership training, coaching, and creative pooling of candidates. The women can be helped by having flexible work hours, support groups for future female leaders, helping to develop negotiation skills and helping to develop a female’s “links” (as we would say in Jamaica) or networking.

Image result for women in the having success at work

Jamaica has a dearth of men but we have to be so careful in our third world country on concentrating solely on one sex. My position is equality in higher education and the workforce. Both sexes would be able to have immense contribution to any organization. So let us try encourage our men from as early as elementary through teaching styles, parents having high expectations, enrolling in clubs and extracurricular activities, by speaking positively into his future and investing in educational resources, nurturing them to possess positive social graces, funding or presenting special financial offers in higher education, attracting them through courses which appeal to male students and fostering mentorship programmes which encourage male students throughout the tenure of higher education

mentor-program  men-mentorship

If these ideas are carried forward we will have genders saying, “I know who I am, I know that I matter, I know what matters to me, I know I can make a difference in the world, in my own unique way”

work  Image result for bias promotion towards men




Badal, S. B., (2014, January 20). The Business Benefits of Gender Diversity The Business Journal. Retrieved from:

Goldson. C. (2015, September 8). Letter of the day: Universities Need Much More Men. The Jamaica Gleaner. Retreived from

Goodall, A., Osterloh, M., (2015, May 14). How to redress the gender imbalance. Retreived from:

Richard. B. (2013, November 17 ). Jamaica Narrows Gender Gap. The Jamaica Gleaner. Retreived from:

Wolfson. E. (2012). Elizabeth Wolfson:  Equity and Gender-Based Education [Video File]. Retrieved from



The way we assess graduates’ success is fundamentally flawed.

By: Kadine Haynes- Williams


Article summary

The authors highlighted that findings on a report done by the Institute of Fiscal Studies revealed that the low salary levels of some arts students with a university degree may deter current and prospective students from pursuing higher education. They suggested some deeper and long term benefits of higher education which should be taken into consideration by prospective students and critics e.g. graduates are less likely to engage in violent crimes. They added that the UK Education sector is presently being questioned re: a possible replacement for the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey and believes that this survey which is done six months after graduation is not enough to determine a graduates’ level of success as some careers (especially in the arts field) are developed overtime.

They critiqued that the current (DLHE) survey classifies jobs and success level based on the managerial positions or tax contributions of graduates, rather than the impact that the education received has made on their lives or how satisfied they are in their chosen field. In the mind of the authors, a university degree should be more about fulfilling one’s personal goals and dreams or making a positive contribution to society, rather than learning specific skills for a particular job which may become obsolete after few years or about how much one will earn from said career.

To conclude the article, reference was made to the Brexit vote as a tool which has identified the inequalities in the UK and the differences between areas where a large number of students participating in higher education and those without.  Readers were admonished to view education as a tool which will develop positive aspirations and values in its graduates while reaping significant long term benefits.



The argument

Usher and Marcucci (2011) posits that the DLHE   serves among other things, to provide information to policy makers and work force planners for use in shaping future education policy and to provide information to current and prospective students to assist them in making informed course and career choices. As a university graduate, it is daunting to learn that the intellectual arena places such high value on the amount of money on one’s salary or their tax contribution but yet such little attention is given to a graduates’ position in society in relation to their personal values and job satisfaction. The DLHE survey which is conducted by the Higher Education Statistics Agency as well as a centrally coordinated mix of institutional administration, assesses the following:

  • employment status of graduates
  • job type
  • current wage level
  • position in the organization

They however neglect to make an assessment of the following:

  • graduates’ satisfaction with education and degree received
  • graduates’ perception of the usefulness of their university studies to find employment
  • graduates’ reason for taking their current job
  • graduates’ job satisfaction
  • graduates’ perception on whether or not their university degree was worth the cost. Usher and Marcucci (2011)

How then can these agencies make an accurate assessment on the value of ones’ degree without including the latter? I completely agree that a salary is important as graduates need to meet their financial obligations, however one must bear in mind that when an individual seeks to advance their educational level, it is not only with the aim of satisfying these needs or contributing to economic development but to a great extent it relates to one’s desires for self-actualization, self-respect, personal preferences and also for simply making their parents proud. They do not seek to discover the graduates’ objectives for pursuing higher education and therefore they are not in a position to make an accurate assessment of their achievement.


All the areas stated above which are presently being neglected by the DLHE needs to be added to the any survey which will track the achievement and success of graduates.  True success is a deeply satisfying and sustainable success that gives us the power to make the impact that we are here in this world to make Morris (1994). As a teacher, even though I might not be taking home a large paycheck, its brings me great satisfaction to observe a student overtime and watch as the various strategies I employ in my lessons move him/her from a non-starter position in reading, up to a required grade level. I am pleased with the contribution I make to the society, and in my opinion that is the true meaning of success. My teaching degree is very useful as I am a member of the noble group of people who has shaped the minds of doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. I also believe that professionals in the creative industries such as architecture, advertising, media and publishing, photography, performing arts etc. Abreu etal (2010) would agree that they selected their field not only because of the monetary gains but preferences, skills and satisfaction as well. If researchers and educators are using financial position as the yard stick to measure the success of university graduates, what message are they then sending to prospective graduates about their creative artistry and values?



I propose that the way in which the United Kingdom (England and wales) assess the level of success attained by their graduates of higher education through the DLHE is definitely flawed. It is important to track the performance of graduates for the purposes stated above, however the areas covered by this survey is not adequate to determine the success of said graduates. I therefore recommend that this process be revised as we seek to improve the quantity and quality of information made available to all stakeholders who participate in nation building.


Abreu, M., Faggian, A., Comunian, R., & McCann, P. (2010). Life is short, art is long”: From

Bohemian Graduates to the Creative Class. In Western Regional Science Association,

            49th Annual Meeting(pp.224).

Morris, T., & Morris, T. V. (1994). True Success. Putnam Publishing Group

Mears,R.,& Sammells,N.(2016) The way we assess graduates’ success is fundamentally flawed.

Usher, A., & Marcucci, P. (2011). Survey of graduate tracking systems around the

world. Management of Sustainable Development,Special Issue-UNESCO,7-13.v

The way we assess graduates’ success is fundamentally flawed.

Academic Double Standards: Freedom vs. Compliance

By: Judonna Smikle


A trip down memory lane.

Think back to the following experiences:

  • Your first day as a Post-graduate student.
  • Your first encounter with a lecturer during the graduate program.

On August 28, 2015, I entered an orientation programme filled with potential graduates of Masters in Education. With individuals of varying ages, the thought ran across my mind: “This will be a new experience; this will be an experience of growth”.

“Here at the University of the West Indies, you are required to read for your Degree”. Those were the first words the lecturer greeted a class filled with potential graduate educators. Having heard the lumbering weight of what will be required during my course of study; the scale of nervousness and excitement steadily balanced. The list of technological requirements were quickly highlighted; which sent shock waves in the minds of the students. Many were unfamiliar with the technological requirements regarding the course assessments. For example: American Psychological Association (APA) referencing, Online Library Sites, Anti-plagiarism sites (TurnItIn) etc. The lecturers strongly emphasized the importance of academic writing in conjunction with adequate and appropriate sources. Ultimately, it was all about academic writing using the format of all formats: American Psychological Association (APA).

In my mind, the objective to complete this course was ‘Think like the lecturer! Act like the lecturer’ in hopes that the grades will follow suit. The objective was quickly reconstructed as the academic sky began to show clouds of double standards in policies and the delivery of content.

Macfarlane (2016), articulates his thought of academic double standards as showcasing freedom to lectures and compliance for students.

The perils of plagiarism


The University of the West Indies is described as an institution that boasts their zero tolerance of plagiarism. In fact the fear of plagiarism is instilled from the students’ first face-to-face encounter; Orientation. According to the institution’s policy which was formulated 2010, outlines that the penalties for the act of plagiarism, spans between the individual’s re-submission after a specified suspension period to the expulsion of the individual without possible re-entry; depending on the severity of the situation. Within the scope of plagiarism is the lack of or insufficient sourcing of information. But does it only apply to students?

Reflect on the last PowerPoint presentation you encountered with an academic lecturer. Was the content adequately sourced? If not, should the rule of incorporating APA format be applied to lecturers?

The unbalanced act is purported by Macfarlane (2016). He portrays lecturers as routinely ignoring the very same referencing policies they strictly enforce on students and refers to the universal anti-plagiarism software Turnitin as only used to critique students’ academic submissions.

Traditionally, society separated the role of a student and a teacher/ lecturer as two distinct groups. The lecturer taught or facilitated and in return, the student should learn and reciprocate the content through the avenues of appropriate academic writings. The challenge of views and opinion, though spoken of, were not completely tolerated by all institution. Thus the research into the term “Academic freedom”.

Academic Freedom


According to Nelson (2010), the term academic freedom is used to facilitate the engagement of intellectual debate between faculty members and students without fear of personal offense and retaliation. Nelson further purports that student academic freedom does not deny faculty members the right to require students to master course material and the fundamentals of the disciplines that faculty teaches.  Nor does it give students or faculty the right to ignore college or university regulations. Academic freedom therefore fosters the process of both faculty members and students making comparisons and contrasts between subjects taught in a course and in any field of human knowledge or period of history.

Is academic freedom widely overlooked? As an individual that is challenged in balancing the world of being a student and a teacher, I believe academic freedom should be the core of every university’s mission. The goal of bridging the gaps between lecturers facilitating and students learning must be centered on a healthy climate in which compliments the core issue of higher education.

Class Participation


The debate on the importance of class participation at the graduate level, will always be represented on both ends of the spectrum. Questions such as: Should lecturers administer a register at each class and threaten to have a cut off attendance time? Or should lecturers mandatory enforce the rule of students participating during session? Macfarlene (2016) views these strict rules as an avenue to forcefully accommodate students to ask questions and anticipation of an appropriate grade.

So what happens to quiet observer? Is there a standard text which outlines the prescribed behaviours at attitudes for students?

In his article, he further challenges the perceived notion of the relationship between students and the university lecturers. He posits that universities often advertise their endorsement of co-partnering and co-learning between the lecturers and the students. Yet those parallel lines are often curved by the actions of many lecturers. Are universities viewing education as a business? Should students be viewed as customers? If so, is there be a hassle free environment when the customer decides to query his or her receipt in the form of graded assignment?


Surprisingly, as we raise the continued bar of education, we may forget the experiences as students. We may reduce the actual levels of pressure we endured and the complaints we mounted during the process. By alleviating the concept of double standards among institutions, the process of collegiality and collaboration will be heighten. Ultimately strengthening the educational experiences offered to students.

What are your views?




Macfarlane, B. (2016). Academic double standards:freedom for lecturers, compliance for students. Retrieved from

Nelson, C. (2010). Defining Academic Freedom. Inside Higher Ed12, 21. Retrieved from


Academic Double Standards: Freedom vs. Compliance