Aquaculture International

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 767–786 | Cite as

Generic skills needs for graduate employment in the aquaculture, fisheries and related sectors in Europe

  • Cristina Pita
  • Margaret Eleftheriou
  • Jaime Fernández-Borrás
  • Susana Gonçalves
  • Eleni Mente
  • M. Begoña Santos
  • Sónia Seixas
  • Graham J. Pierce
Article

Abstract

There is an increasing demand for highly skilled workers in all advanced industrialised economies. Although most jobs require occupation-specific skills to carry them out, it is widely recognised that generic skills are ever more needed by job seekers, to increase job opportunities and maintain employability; this applies to all sectors of the economy, from selling cars to undertaking marine research. Several recent European Union strategy documents emphasise the importance of generic skills. However, the apparent mismatch between the skills sets that employers seek and that job seekers offer remains a major challenge. This paper focuses on perceptions of and attitudes to generic skills training for university graduates intending to gain employment in aquaculture, fisheries or other marine sectors and presents the results of a survey administered to academics, industry representatives, students (at different stages of their academic career) and graduates. The various respondents regarded most of the 39 generic skills under investigation as important, with none classified as unimportant. However, students undertaking different types of degree (i.e. B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D.) prioritized different generic skills and the level of importance ascribed to generic skills training increased as students progressed in their university careers. On the other hand, university staff and other employers were fairly consistent in their choice of the most important generic skills. We argue that there remains a need to place generic skills and employability attributes and attitudes at the centre of the higher education curriculum.

Keywords

Aquaculture Employability Fisheries Generic skills Marine Vocational 

Abbreviations

CV

Curriculum Vitae

EC

European Commission

EQF

European Qualifications Framework

ESCO

European Skills/Competences Qualifications and Occupations

EU

European Union

HEIs

Higher Education Institutions

VET

Vocational Education and Training

References

  1. Bennett N, Dunne E, Carre C (2000) Skills development in higher education and employment. SRHE, BuckinghamGoogle Scholar
  2. CBI/NUS (2011) Working towards your future. Making the most of your time in higher education. Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and National Union of Students (NUS). UK, 44 ppGoogle Scholar
  3. CEDEFOP (2010) Skills supply and demand in Europe: medium-term forcast up to 2020. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Publication number 3052 EN. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 120 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. CEDEFOP (2011) What next for skills on the European labour market? Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Briefing note, February 2011. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 4 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. De La Harpe B, Radloff A, Wyber J (2000) Quality and generic (professional) skills. Qual High Educ 6(3):231–243. doi:10.1080/13538320020005972 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dearing R (1997) Higher Education in the Learning Society. Report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education. HMSO, NorwichGoogle Scholar
  7. Dunne E, Bennett N, Carré C (2000) Skill development in higher education and employment. In: Coffield F (ed) Differing visions of a learning society. Research findings, vol I. The Policy Press & ESRC, BristolGoogle Scholar
  8. ESCO (2013) European classification of skills/competences, qualifications and occupations: the first public release. A Europe 2020 initiative. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, p 16Google Scholar
  9. European Commission (2009a) Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities DG. Presentation fiche: ESCO, the forthcoming European Skills, Competencies and Occupations taxonomy. EMPL D-3/LK D(2009), 18 January 2010, Brussels, 6 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. European Commission (2009b) Key competences for a changing world. Draft 2010 joint progress report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the “Education & Training 2010 work programme”. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM (2009) 640 finalGoogle Scholar
  11. European Commission (2010) A New Impetus for European cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to support the Europe 2020 strategy, European Commission, 9 June 2010. COM (2010) 296 finalGoogle Scholar
  12. European Commission (2011a) Principles for innovative doctoral training. Brussels. http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/pdf/research_policies/Principles_for_Innovative_Doctoral_Training.pdf
  13. European Commission (2011b) EU mapping exercise on doctoral training in Europe, towards a common approach. European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  14. European Universities Association (2010) Salzburg II Recommendations: European Universities’ achievements since 2005 in implementing the Salzburg Principles, Brussels, p 5Google Scholar
  15. Figel J (2008) The future of higher education: challenges and policy directions: the EU perspective. OECD/France international conference: higher education to 2030. What future for quality access in the era of globalisation? Paris, December 2008Google Scholar
  16. Green F (2009) The growing importance of generic skills. Document commissioned as part of the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Beyond Current Horizons project, Futurelab, 10 ppGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackling B, Watty K (2010) Generic skills. Account Educ Int J 19(1–2):1–3. doi:10.1080/09639280902875549 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leckey J, McGuigan M (1997) Right tracks-wrong rails: the development of generic skills in higher education. Res High Educ 38(3):365–378. doi:10.1023/A:1024902207836 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lees D (2002) Graduate employability: literature review. Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN) Generic Centre. University of Exeter, Exeter, p 23Google Scholar
  20. Mastura M, Imam O, Osman S (2013) Employability skills and task performance of employees in government sector. Int J Humanit Soc Sci 13(4):150–162Google Scholar
  21. Merrifield K (2013) Do ‘employability skills’ matter? How important are employability skills to teachers, young people and employers today? MA by Research, University of York, Department of EducationGoogle Scholar
  22. Nguyen D (1998) The essential skills and attributes of an engineer: a comparative study of academics, industry personnel and engineering students. Glob J Eng Educ 2(1):65–74Google Scholar
  23. OECD (2013a) OECD skills outlook 2013: first results from the survey of adult skills. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Publishing, Paris 461 ppGoogle Scholar
  24. OECD (2013b) Skilled for life? Key findings from the survey of adult skills. Secretary-general of the OECD. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Publishing, Paris 30 ppGoogle Scholar
  25. Rudiger K (2013) Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus: addressing the young people/jobs mismatch. Today’s young people, tomorrow’s workforce. Chartered Institute of Personnel Directors, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Warn J, Tranter P (2001) Measuring quality in higher education: a competency approach. Qual High Educ 7(3):191–198. doi:10.1080/13538320120098078 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Pita
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaret Eleftheriou
    • 3
  • Jaime Fernández-Borrás
    • 4
  • Susana Gonçalves
    • 5
  • Eleni Mente
    • 6
  • M. Begoña Santos
    • 7
  • Sónia Seixas
    • 5
    • 8
  • Graham J. Pierce
    • 2
    • 9
  1. 1.Institute of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM)University of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.AQUALEX Multimedia Consortium (AMC) LtdDublinIreland
  4. 4.Department of Physiology, Faculty of BiologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Universidade AbertaLisbonPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment, School of Agricultural EnvironmentUniversity of ThessalyVólosGreece
  7. 7.Centro Oceanográfico de VigoInstituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO)VigoSpain
  8. 8.Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE), Faculdade de Ciências e TecnologiaUniversidade de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  9. 9.Oceanlab, University of AberdeenNewburgh, AberdeenshireUK

Personalised recommendations