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Research Domain: Group Four - Learning and Work Transition

Title of Project: Work Skills of University Graduates

Start Date: April 1, 1997
Academic Investigator: Dr. Graham Lowe (U. Alberta)
Student Researcher: Jeff Bowlby (U. Alberta)

This study examined the value of a university education, as defined by graduates who had been in the labour market for a number of years. This study developed from criticisms which have been directed at universities, by policy-makers and industry, regarding the types of employment skills that graduates take with them as human capital into the labour market. Despite such criticisms, little in-depth follow-up research has been conducted which examines graduates' perceptions about their university education, the employment skills they acquired in their programs, and their ability to utilize such skills in the workplace.

Examining the value of a university education for graduates in this way has relevance for questions surrounding lifelong learning. Knowing how graduates assess their university education and the employment skills they develop in their academic programs can help to inform us how they may perceive their own future learning needs in light of these assessment. In this respect, graduates in this study were asked about their own future learning needs. As well, individuals were asked about their experiences with workplace training, and their perceptions about responsibilities for training.

Thirty-seven individuals who graduated from a range of programs (Arts, Science, Business and Education) at the University of Alberta in 1989-90, were interviewed over a three month period in the winter and spring of 1997. These individuals had also completed four separate questionnaires for the Edmonton School-Work Transition study between 1985 and 1992. This provided the opportunity to compare 1997 qualitative interview data, with responses these individuals had provided between 19856 and 1992 for the Edmonton School-Work Transition study.


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