‘This is what gets people hired!’: Academic perspectives on employability skills in architecture and the potential impact of COVID-19





This article presents findings from a recent study of academic perspectives towards employability in architecture. The aim of the study was to gauge the perceived impact of COVID-19 on employer values, and the degree to which these perceived changes were impacting teaching practices. Thematic analysis of data from semi-structured interviews with eight members of a postgraduate architecture community in Australia—including educators, practitioners, and students—revealed strong consensus. The relative value of skills such as teamwork and autonomy were deemed increasingly important following the widespread uptake of remote work. On the other hand, the value of competencies associated with the design process itself, as reflected in professional accreditation criteria, were perceived as stable. Most enlightening were participants’ views on how they believe employability skills are encouraged, observed and judged in academic contexts. By reinforcing how employability skill development tends to rely on the discipline’s tacit enculturation practices, this study raises critical questions about quality assurance and assessment practices within the architectural community. Embedded in these questions is the understanding that the challenge of employability skills assessment is entangled within the discipline’s failure to address its ongoing challenges around diversity, equity and inclusion.


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Author Biographies

James Thompson, The University of Melbourne

Dr. Thompson is a Lecturer in Teaching and Learning with the Built Environments Learning and Teaching (BEL+T) group in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. James holds a PhD in the Built Environment from the University of Washington (USA) and previously was Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth (UK). His book, Narratives of Architectural Education: From Student to Architect (Routledge, 2019), explores how aspiring architects formulate occupational identities.

Pippa Soccio, The University of Melbourne

Dr. Soccio is a Lecturer in Teaching and Learning with the Built Environments Learning and Teaching (BEL+T) group in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, from where she holds a PhD in Architecture. Previously she worked as a Research Fellow with the Learning Environments applied Research Network (LEaRN) on a project evaluating the relationships between learning environments and the practices/behaviours of students and teachers.


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How to Cite

Thompson, J., & Soccio, P. (2022). ‘This is what gets people hired!’: Academic perspectives on employability skills in architecture and the potential impact of COVID-19. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 13(1), 127–141. https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2022vol13no1art1555