Implementation of professional skills into technical education programs.
Keywords:Skills, curriculum, technical skills, professional skills, employer, faculty
There are limited contemporary Canadian studies regarding the inclusion of professional skills into technical education. Contentions include what skills are requisite and/or prioritized in various industries. This research sought to explore this gap with a range of academic and industry stakeholders.
This mixed methods study encompassed questionnaires, document analysis, and interviews/focus groups and included faculty members, students, and industry member representatives. There were 595 who completed the quantitative component and 56 individuals who participated in the qualitative interviews. Questionnaires included learner exist surveys, employer satisfaction surveys, and professional skills ranking instrument. Document analysis of job advertisements supported the development of the instruments. Interviews explored stakeholder nuanced perspectives.
Academics, leaders, and industry representatives recognized the importance of integrating professional skills to two-year technical programs, but identified these were not always intentionally taught. While skills were deeply valued, there were barriers to reaching consensus across stakeholder groups about the “set” of skills. Finally, it would require a concerted effort by leaders, teaching academics/instructors, industry representatives, and curriculum designers to select which skills to integrate into the program and support to teach and assess these skills to maximize graduate outcomes. A proposed model – the Model of Professional Skill Development in Technical Education Programs – was created designed to integrate both professional and technical skills within program design and implementation. This model be useful to subject matter experts, curriculum designer, leaders who are keen to ensure integration, teaching and graduate success, and students who want to optimize their success in transitioning from learner to employed graduate.