G. Abio1, M. Pujol Jover2, M.C. Riera Prunera1, M. Alcañiz1, L. Duque3, J. López Tamayo1, A. di Paolo1

1Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
2Open University of Catalonia (SPAIN)
3Universidad Carlos III (SPAIN)
It seems that in our society certain disconnections exist when it comes to coordinate business and society needs with what is offered at university. In fact, one of the main problems that we have in higher education is the so-called education paradox: it is difficult to understand how a high rate of youth unemployment can live together with the evidence that organizations cannot find people with the right training. Not to mention the fact that the mismatch between demand and supply is higher when it comes to talk about vocational training. Something does not work. In recent literature there is a growing interest in skills and competencies that students acquire during their university studies, analysing how they fit for the current job market, both at regional (Mora et al, 2007; 2009) national (Navarro et al March 2009) and supranational level (Bridgstock 2009, García Pérez and Muñoz, 2008; Nusche, 2008).

Our work aims at studying further aspects related to the competencies acquisition level of university students and their ability to adapt to the workplace as soon as they get into it in order to see the shortcomings and strengths already developed within their university studies. To do this we explore the immediate and direct relationship established between the university and the labour market, through the training period students make during the final stages of their studies. The main purpose is to define and clarify the contents of competencies students must finish acquiring once graduated, so that teachers can focus on the implementation of activities in their classes, and assessment practices as well, both intended for improving their level of achievement.

Often a great range of doubts concerning this topic arise to teachers when it comes to dealing with the most relevant skills, how to foster them in class, so that the students end up with a high level of competencies, thus easing their access to the labour market. From our first results we have tried to identify those actions and activities that can be carried out optimally at the university level in order to strengthen them. Nevertheless, we have also tried to find out those for which there is still a long way to go in order to focus our efforts adequately, the main purpose being to ensure that students attain the skills they are demanded both from the university and from the labour market. In addition, the conclusions coming from the analysis we undertake may be useful to the academic community when approaching high-standards at teaching level, resulting not only in the acquisition of disciplinary knowledge, but also in a progressive achievement of professional competencies throughout the student's university years.