Content analysis of vacancy advertisements for employability skills: Challenges and opportunities for informing curriculum development
Keywords:employability skills, generic skills, content analysis, advertisements, job vacancies
The process of curriculum development can be informed by seeking the views of stakeholders, including employers, academics, students and recent graduates, about the skills, attributes and personal characteristics required by various professions. The views of several stakeholders may also be compared to help ensure reliability of results and identify areas of agreement or variance. However, there are documented limitations regarding the perceptions of academics and students of employability skills, and also problems with employers’ and recent graduates’ views. Another approach to identifying the skills required in various professions is content analysis of job vacancy advertisements. Content analysis of advertisements is a versatile way of identifying current skills required by various professions, and allows comparison across countries and over time to identify trends. Yet there is little evidence to suggest that this information is used to inform curriculum development. This paper presents a qualitative integrative review of studies looking at employability skills (ES) through the use of content analysis of job vacancy advertisements. Here ES are equated with essential requirements stated in vacancy advertisements. ES is the term adopted in Australia by DEST (2002) to define skills required to both secure employment and progress in an organisation. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (2014) checklist for qualitative research was used in this integrative review of 40 studies. The range of application, research methods used and findings are discussed in this paper, as are the advantages and challenges associated with analysing job vacancy advertisements as a method of identifying employability skills (ES) required by employers.
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