The Transferable Skills Development Programme of a Portuguese Economics and Management Faculty: The Perceptions of Graduate Students

  • Iris BarbosaEmail author
  • Carla Freire
  • Mariana Paiva Santos
Part of the Management and Industrial Engineering book series (MINEN)


The Bologna Declaration imposed significant changes in European higher education , placing emphasis on teaching methods that promote students’ active learning and the development of skills , including both the skills that are specific to the academic qualification area and the ones that became known as transferable skills . The latter have been considered to be fundamental to the promotion of graduate employability. This chapter presents the specific case of the Transferable Skills Development Programme of a Portuguese public university and analyses the perceptions of 21 graduate students , in the area of Economics and Management , regarding its relevance and contribution to the development of transferable skills. Through the completion of qualitative questionnaires and the interaction established within three focus groups, the respondents acknowledged the innovative profile of the programme in the Portuguese university context and its contribution to the development of transferable competencies, which they believed to be especially relevant to their future job performance . The graduate students involved considered that the Transferable Skills Development Programme should continue to reinforce its commitment to activities and contents which were markedly more practical.


Labour Market Technical Skill Transferable Skill Employability Skill Focus Group Meeting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Lawler, E. (1994). From job-based to competency-based organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15(1), 3–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Assiter, A. (1995). Transferable skills in higher education. Londres: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Chadha, D. (2006). A curriculum model for transferable skills development. Engineering Education, 1(1), 19–24.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Drummond, I., Nixon, I., & Wiltshire, J. (1998). Personal transferable skills in higher education: The problems of implementing good practice. Quality Assurance in Education, 6(1), 19–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mansfield, B. (2004). Competence in transition. Journal of European Industrial Training, 28(2/3/4), 296–309.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Raybould, J., & Sheedy, V. (2005). Are graduates equipped with the right skills in the employability stakes? Industrial and Commercial Training, 37(5), 259–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Stewart, J., & Knowles, V. (1999). The changing nature of graduate careers. Career Development International, 4(7), 370–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Binks, M. (1996). Enterprise in higher education and the graduate labour market. Education + Training, 38(2), 26–29.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Crammer, S. (2006). Enhancing graduate employability: Best intentions and mixed outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 169–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fallows, S., & Steven, C. (2000). Building employability skills into the higher education curriculum: A university-wide initiative. Education + Training, 42(2), 75–83.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gammie, B., Gammie, E., & Cargill, E. (2002). Personal skills development in the accounting curriculum. Accounting Education: An International Journal, 11(1), 63–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Harvey, L., Moon, S., Geall, V., & Bower, R. (1997). Graduates’ work: Organisation change and students’ attributes. Birmingham: Centre for Research into Quality together with the Association of Graduate Recruiters.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Nabi, G., & Bagley, D. (1999). Graduates’ perceptions of transferable personal skills and future career preparation in the UK. Education + Training, 41(4), 184–193.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    The European Higher Education Area. (1999). The Bologna declaration of 19 June 1999: Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education.
  15. 15.
    Weil, S. (1999). Re-creating Universities for ‘beyond the stable state’: From ‘Dearingesque’ systematic control to post-dearing systematic learning and inquiry. Systems Research and Behavioural Science, 16(2), 171–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sleezer, C. M., Gularte, M. A., Waldner, L., & Cook, J. (2004). Business and higher education partner to develop a high-skilled workforce: A case-study. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 17(2), 65–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Possa, G. (2006). Europe’s Universities in response to Europe’s challenges. Higher Education in Europe, 31(4), 355–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Andrews, J., & Higson, H. (2008). Graduate employability, ‘soft skills’ versus ‘hard’ business knowledge: A European study. Higher Education in Europe, 33(4), 411–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Garavan, T., & McGuire, D. (2001). Competencies and workplace learning: Some reflections on the rhetoric and the reality. Journal of Workplace Learning, 13(4), 114–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sandberg, J. (2000). Understanding human competence at work: An interpretative approach. Academy of Management Journal, 43(1), 9–25.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Dench, S. (1997). Changing skill needs: What makes people employable? Industrial and Commercial Training, 29(6), 190–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    McClelland, D. (1973). Testing for competence rather than for intelligence. American Psychologist, 28(1), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Burgoyne, J. (1993). The competence movement: Issues, stakeholders and prospects. Personnel Review, 22(6), 6–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Moore, D. R., Cheng, M.-I., & Dainty, A. R. (2002). Competence, competency and competencies: Performance assessment in organisations. Work Study, 51(6), 314–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Woodruffe, C. (1993). What is meant by a competency? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 14(1), 1, 29–36.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Strebler, M., Robinson, D., & Heron, P. (1997). Getting the best out of your competencies. Brighton: Institute of Employment Studies, University of Sussex.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Boyatzis, R. (1982). The competent manager: A model for effective performance. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Hoffmann, T. (1999). The meanings of competency. Journal of European Industrial Training, 23(6), 275–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Levy-Leboyer, C. (1996). La Gestion des compétences. Paris: Les Editions d’Organisation.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Spencer, L. M., Jr., & Spencer, S. M. (1993). Competence at work. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Lawrence, T. (2002). Teaching and assessing employability skills through skills USA. Quality Congress. ASQ’s Annual Quality Congress Proceedings (pp. 285–295). Leesburg: Skills USA.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tien, C., Ven, J., & Chou, S. (2004). Using problem-based learning to enhance students’ key competencies. Journal of American Academy of Business, 2(2), 454–459.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Gibbons-Wood, D., & Lange, T. (2000). Developing core skills—Lessons from Germany and Sweden. Education + Training, 42(1), 24–32.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Atlay, M., & Harris, R. (2000). An institutional approach to developing students’ “Transferable” skills. Innovations in Education & Training International, 37(1), 76–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kearns, P. (2001). Generic skills for the new economy. Review of Research. Obtained in August 2015, from Review of research, NCVER.
  36. 36.
    González, J., & Wagenaar, R. (2003). Tuning educational structures in Europe: Final Report Phase One. Obtained in August 2015, from the University of Deusto and University of Groningen.
  37. 37.
    Billing, D. (2007). Teaching for transfer of core/key skills in higher education: Cognitive skills. Higher Education, 53(4), 483–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gosling, J., & Mintzberg, H. (2006). Management education as if both matter. Management Learning, 37(4), 419–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Rubin, R., & Dierdorff, E. (2009). How relevant Is the MBA? Assessing the alignment of required curricula and required managerial competencies. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8(2), 208–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Bennett, R. (2002). Employers’ demands for personal transferable skills in graduates: A content analysis of 1000 job advertisements and an associated empirical study. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 54(4), 457–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Farmer, J., & Campbell, F. (1997). Information professionals, CPD and transferable skills. Library Management, 18(3), 129–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Humphreys, P., Greenan, K., & Mcllveen, H. (1997). Developing work-based transferable skills in a university environment. Journal of European Industrial Training, 21(2), 63–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Laughton, D., & Montanheiro, L. (1996). Core skills in higher education: The student perspective. Education + Training, 38(4), 17–24.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Murray, S., & Robinson, H. (2001). Graduates into sales–employer, student and university perspectives. Education + Training, 43(3), 139–145.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Whittle, S., & Eaton, D. (2001). Attitudes towards transferable skills in medical undergraduates. Medical Education, 35(2), 148–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rosenberg, S., Heimler, R., & Morote, E.-S. (2012). Basic employability skills: A triangular design approach. Education + Training, 54(1), 7–20.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Cabral-Cardoso, C., Estêvão, C., & Silva, P. (2006). Competências transversais dos diplomados do Ensino Superior: Perspetiva dos Empregadores e Diplomados [Transferable skills of Higher Education graduates: Perspectives from Employers and Graduates]. Guimarães: TecMinho.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Hallinger, P., & Bridges, E. (2007). Problem-based management education: Developing “managers for action”. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Kitzinger, J. (1994). The methodology of Focus Groups: The importance of interaction between research participants. Sociology of Health & Illness, 16(1), 103–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Stokes, D., & Bergin, K. (2006). Methodology or “Methodolatry”? An evaluation of focus groups and depth interviews. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 9(1), 26–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Powell, R. A., & Single, H. M. (1996). Focus groups. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 8(5), 499–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Kitzinger, J. (1995). Qualitative research: Introducing focus groups. British Medical Journal, 311(7000), 299–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Grudens-Schuck, N., Allen, B. L., & Larson, K. (2004). Methodology brief: focus group fundamentals. Extension Community and Economic Development Publications, Book 12.Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Jackson, D. (2009). An international profile of industry-relevant competencies and skill gaps in modern graduates. International Journal of Management Education, 8(3), 29–58.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rainsbury, E., Hodges, D., Burchell, N., & Lay, M. (2002). Ranking Workplace Competencies: Student and Graduate Perceptions. Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, 3(2), 8–18.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Robles, M. M. (2012). Executive perceptions of the top 10 soft skills needed in today’s workplace. Business Communication Quarterly, 75(4), 453–465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Quek, A. (2005). Learning for the workplace: A case study in graduate employees’ generic competencies. Journal of Workplace Learning, 17(4), 231–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Keeling, R. (2006). The Bologna process and the Lisbon research Agenda: the European Commission’s expanding role in higher education discourse. European Journal of Education, 41(2), 203–223.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Tomlinson, M. (2008). ‘The degree is not enough’: Students’ perceptions of the role of higher education credentials for graduate work and employability. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(1), 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Cotton, K. (2001). Developing employability skills. Portland: Northwest Regional Educational Research Laboratory.Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Hawkins, P., & Winter, J. (1995). Skills for graduates in the 21st century. Cambridge: Association of Graduate Recruiters.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Crebert, G., Bates, M., Bell, B., Patrick, C.-J., & Cragnolini, V. (2004). Developing generic skills at university, during work placement and in employment: Graduates’ perceptions. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(2), 147–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iris Barbosa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carla Freire
    • 1
  • Mariana Paiva Santos
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MinhoSchool of Economics and ManagementBragaPortugal

Personalised recommendations