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




employability, groups, skills, digital, future


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.

Author Biographies

Pauline A M Bremner, The Robert Gordon University

Pauline Bremner is a lecturer in Retail and Fashion Management. She is currently the Head of Year of Stage Four Fashion Management and a member of the Programme Management Team for Fashion and Marketing Management, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel Development and an Auroran. Teaching lies in the areas of Omni-Channel Fashion Logistics, International Fashion and Retailing, Fashion/Retail Strategy and Fashion Retailing. She coordinates a number of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level and is a Member of the Academic Council.

During her time here she has completed an MBA in Retailing with Stirling University which culminated with an extensive piece of research examining consumer perceptions in Menswear Fashion. Following that she embarked upon the  PG Cert in Research Methods awarded with distinction prior to aiming for her PhD.  Her PhD by research, which examined the gift-giving of toys to children from adults was awarded in 2015

Audrey Laing, The Robert Gordon University

Audery is am a lecturer in the School of Creative and Cultural Business

I have responsibility for Research Methods, Creative Industries Theory and Practice, Media Strategy and Communication Principles and Practice. I also supervise at Masters and PhD level. I am Stage 3 tutor (Head of Year) for BA Media, BA PR and BA Journalism students. My undergraduate degree was in Music and English Literature at the University of Aberdeen. Following graduation, I worked for several years in the book trade before I returned to university (RGU) where I undertook my doctoral studies. I worked as a research assistant on a variety of projects before becoming a lecturer.




How to Cite

Bremner, P. A. M. and Laing, A. (2019) “The disrupted workplace: are the digital and group skills needs of employers being addressed by universities?”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (16). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.v0i16.535.




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