Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
Byrne, E.P.
4th International Symposium for Engineering Education (ISEE 2012), The University of Sheffield, England
Enhancing engineering employability in the 21st Century; handling uncertainty and complexity through ‘new entrepreneurship’,
Optional Fields
Abstract: Universities, professional bodies and governments prioritise graduate employability and seek these through ‘generic’, ‘soft’, ‘entrepreneurial’ and ‘transferable’ skills. The UK’s Higher Education Academy published a list of 39 ‘aspects of employability’ to assist in the ‘examination of curricula from [the] point of view of employability’ (Yorke and Knight, 2006). These capabilities generally align with good pedagogical practice and include for example, ‘critical analysis’, reflectiveness’, ‘creativity’ and ‘coping with complexity’. However, some clearly appear to focus on interests that align more specifically with business aspirations such as for example, ‘stress tolerance’, ‘influencing’, ‘arguing for and/or justifying a point of view’. This paper argues that universities, given their role and duty as leaders in the development of knowledge and understandings have a consequential responsibility to develop employable graduates who will be equipped to lead and change their (future) organisations for societal good (and ultimately for the good of organisations themselves) rather than to be led in seeking to continually serve up whatever type of ‘oven ready graduates’ that the market economy may envisage. It proposes that, in the wake of the increasing complexity and uncertainty that surrounds 21st century society, engineers’ employability will be best realised by graduates who possess additional capabilities to the aforementioned, such as for example, metacognition (learning how to learn), independent critical thought, recognising inherent uncertainty and complexity, resilience, humility and openness to (integrating) new perspectives. Such engineers embody Gibb’s (2002) ‘new entrepreneurship’ paradigm, contrasting with a narrow conception of entrepreneurship based primarily around business and new venture management.
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