Undergraduate recognition of curriculum-related skill development and the skills employers are seeking
Employers of chemistry graduates are seeking a range of transferable skills from prospective employees, and academics are increasingly seeking to build employability skill development opportunities into the undergraduate curriculum. However, research suggests that undergraduates do not recognise or value such skill development without prompting. This recognition is essential if graduates are to be able to articulate their skills in the employment process. This study involves research amongst almost 1000 undergraduates studying chemistry at two institutions, using open-ended questions to collect qualitative data. The extent to which students recognised course-related skills development and understood the skills that employers are looking for was investigated, as was their desire to develop additional skills. Similarities and differences in student views between institutions are discussed, as well as trends across year levels and by gender. Results indicate that undergraduates studying chemistry are most likely to value and recognise development of some key skills sought by employers (teamwork, communication, thinking/problem solving, organisation/time management and laboratory/practical skills), but are very unlikely to value or recognise others (numeracy, independent learning, commercial awareness, interpersonal, research, computer/IT, creativity/innovation, flexibility/adaptability and initiative). Opportunities to develop the latter skills and recognition of the value of doing so will require improved communication with students and/or provision of new experiences within the curriculum.