This research aims to highlight, via the use of qualitative and quantitative methods, a possible mismatch between a degree learning outcomes and employability skills. By use of a mixed methods approach, inclusive of employer feedback, relevant data can be extrapolated to provide a fuller picture on skills gaps. This is in addition to other mechanisms such as student evaluation questionnaires (SEQs), National Student Surveys (NSS) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) benchmarks. Together these approaches can aid in course development, informing educators and for students give an awareness of the meaning of a degree outcomes to an employer. Up skilling moves quickly in today's society, in a 'disrupted' workplace, which is seeing skill sets changing to meet the needs of the digital economy (Gray 2016), otherwise termed the fourth industrial revolution (4.0). This is a subsequent piece of research from last year's QAA enhancement themed presentation (Bremner 2017) extending the mixed method research conducted with alumni to add in qualitative research which focused on employers. Original data analysis highlighted gaps in digital and soft/group skills from a Fashion Management (FM) degree perspective, which some alumni felt missing. This year's research identified the importance of digital skills in the workplace from the employer point of view. This additional step strengthens the debate for employers and universities to work more symbiotically to close any gaps between a degree outcomes and employability skills to provide graduates who are 'work ready' for 4.0. Given the findings, recommendations highlighted that the data gathered can be used to inform our FM degree, and that mixed methods approaches are required to include employer input to contribute to the further success the RGU FM graduate, through the learner journey. Notwithstanding this it has to be noted that this is small scale research, whilst at RGU level research has been conducted to support the wider strategic direction on graduate outcomes. This research aims to be reflective in nature and suggests educationalists need to think out of the box.
BREMNER, P.A.M. 2018. The gap between degree outcomes and employability skills. Presented at the 15th Enhancement in higher education conference: evaluation, evidence and enhancement: inspiring staff and students, 7 June 2018, Glasgow, UK.