AN OPTIMISED COMPETENCY FRAMEWORK TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR EMPLOYMENT

D. Palmer-Brown1, F.F. Cai2, P. Patel1

1London Metropolitan University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Anglia Ruskin University (UNITED KINGDOM)
The language of competency is heavily utilised by employers when considering staff selection, appraisal, continued professional development, technical training and personal development. However, students and new graduates are not proficient in this language and therefore face challenges when entering the employment market. Competency frameworks exist in virtually all professional and employment sectors, but are particularly prolific in science, medicine, engineering, computing and IT, where they are often aligned to continuing professional development and certification.

In this paper, we present a competency framework developed by adapting a number of existing professional competency frameworks used by the IT industry. Our competency framework is designed to be used by and for students on a degree programme with an embedded work-related learning course. The framework has two specific aims: firstly, that it must be usable by students for self-evaluation and self-regulation purposes, and secondly, that it must allow for the support and dispensing of developmental feedback.

We also present the results of a study conducted to test the competency framework with 132 students on a Computing-related degree. Understanding, through cluster and correlation analysis, the way in which students perceive their own competencies has led us to optimise our framework to include the twelve most significant competencies within the Academic, Workplace and Personal Effectiveness categories. In our study, it is the Personal Effectiveness competencies such as ‘self-management’ ‘adaptability’ and ‘integrity’ that feature prominently and it is this category of competencies that students find the most challenging to refine.