University Learning: Soft Skills at a Basic Level #008

The importance of transferable skills as part of a degreee programme

University Learning: Soft Skills at a Basic Level #008
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash

University programs are quite formulaic in the way they have to be designed and presented for quality assurance purposes. In ‘English’, this means that there is a framework or a process regardless of the program of study, often related to an outside agency such as the quality assurance agency for example.

Learning Outcomes

Arguably we go to university to ‘learn’ something and that learning tends to be split three ways.

The outcome of a university program will be that you will have,

  1. knowledge and understanding of an area of interest such as business, a science, engineering or other etc
  2. you will have specific subject related intellectual and research skills
  3. You will have collated a number of transferable or generic skills that can be applied to various circumstances.

By way of example,

  1. I will know and understand the concepts, theories, and practices of marketing
  2. With 1. above I will be able to describe, evaluate, assess, apply etc those theories and practices.
  3. Through my study of 1. and its assessment / application in 2. I will also be able to communicate, reflect, manage people, tasks, and resources. I will be able to work independently and as part of a team. And so on ….

The published transferrable skills for 3 different programmes are below. The similarities are unremarkable.

MSc Marketing Management (2022-23)

  1. Critically evaluate qualitative and quantitative information.
  2. Communicate ideas and arguments fluently in a variety of formats.
  3. Manage your workload, tasks, time and personal resources effectively.
  4. Reflect on your learning and personal development as a marketing manager and / or leader in business.
  5. Work independently on a marketing research project.

BA (Hons) Music And Business Management (2022-23)

  1. Employ skills of research and exploration; gathering, synthesis and evaluation of evidence, including the ability to quote from and acknowledge written sources and use of digital information sources and tools.
  2. Employ reasoning and logic in order to analyse musical, textual, or numerical material, and to formulate relevant arguments and hypotheses
  3. Make use of reflection for enhancement of quality (e.g. planning / implementation / evaluation)
  4. Communicate ideas and arguments in a variety of formats, e.g. written, orally and in the context of formal presentations
  5. Demonstrate interpersonal skills whilst working with others in the investigation of problems, and in the presentation of arguments and evidence
  6. Make effective use of specific IT skills, including word and music processing, spreadsheets, e-mail and internet resources
  7. Organise your time efficiently to meet deadlines and manage workloads

BSc (Hons) Chemistry (2022-23)

  1. Communicate with chemistry specialists and non-specialists, both in written and oral formats, including data presentation.
  2. Demonstrate problem-solving skills relating to the analysis and interpretation of both qualitative and quantitative information.
  3. Demonstrate numerical and mathematical skills, including handling data, algebra, functions, trigonometry, calculus, vectors and complex numbers, alongside error analysis, order-of-magnitude estimations, systematic use of scientific units and different types of data presentation.
  4. Interact with other people to engage in team working.
  5. Manage your time effectively and demonstrate organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective ways of working.

What do you need to know?

Whilst unremarkable, this may go some way to explaining the value of a degree programme regardless of topic and the importance of transferrable skills in achieving employment after graduation.

From the above we can see numerous soft skills that a graduate ‘should’ have in an ideal world, skills such such as the ability to :

  1. evaluate different types of information
  2. communicate with various different types of individual
  3. manage oneself and others
  4. work independently and as part of a team
  5. reflect and learn
  6. problem solve and suggest solutions