Soft Skills, Policies, Practices, and Self-Assessment: Employability Challenges and Opportunities of University Graduates in Pakistan
Author(s) : Syed Abdul Manan , Maya Khemlani David & Sham Haidar
In a fast changing landscape of a globalized world and knowledge-driven economies, producing graduates with multiple competencies is critical as well as challenging for the universities. Given the growing importance of soft skills and their employability prospects, the present study draws on quantitative and qualitative data and examine soft skills of undergraduate students in four public universities of Pakistan. Total 426 students were participants in the survey questionnaire while 25 participated in interviews. Results show that although students’ self-assessment of different soft skill shows high levels quantitatively; however, there still appears a wide gap between policies, classroom practices vis-à-vis achieving soft skills targets. Although the Higher Education Commission Pakistan (HEC) incorporates soft skills in curriculum; however, we find the lack of clear policy direction about integration of soft skills in actual classroom teaching and practices. Noticeably, vital soft skills such as entrepreneurship and professional ethics are absent from the curriculum. We observe that without establishing a comprehensive policy framework and integration of soft skills in pedagogies, the graduating students are likely to encounter potential obstacles in finding reasonable jobs. Applying such framework could train students as a sustained and competent human resource, employable in the global economy.
Keywords: soft skills, employability, Higher Education Pakistan, higher education policies and practices