The disrupted workplace: are the digital and group skills needs of employers being addressed by universities?

Pauline A M Bremner, Audrey Laing


Upskilling moves quickly in today’s ‘disrupted’ workplace, and skill sets need to change to meet the needs of the digital economy (Gray, 2016), sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Using a mixed methods approach and drawing on data from relevant stakeholders, the aim of this research is to explore, evaluate and identify any mismatch between degree learning outcomes and employability skills. The research also proposes specific strategies to address identifiable skills gaps. Focusing on the views of Fashion Management (FM) alumni, the study highlights gaps in digital skills as well as gaps in professional /group skills which some alumni felt were missing from their university education. The research also notes the importance of digital skills in the workplace from the employers’ point of view. This strengthens the argument for employers and universities to work more symbiotically to address any gaps between degree outcomes and employability skills in order to provide graduates who are ‘work ready’ for 4IR.

Given the findings, the authors recommend that the data gathered be used not only to inform and enhance our FM degree, but perhaps more importantly, and in a broader educational and academic context, that universities be mindful that they fully address the changing skills requirements of future employers. While this research focuses on FM alumni and employers, because of the creativity and management which are core to this course, the findings are relevant across many related management and creative industries university courses.


employability; groups; skills; digital; future

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ISSN: 1759-667X