Getting Students Employed: 21st Century Learning Competences and Career Competences

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Sundberg, Kelly Cebold
career; competences; employment; knowledge economy; learning; workforce development; Education Policy
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis explores the nexus between education and the economy in the 21st century knowledge-based economy to understand the relationship between the learning competences – as described in 21st century frameworks – and career competences – as recommended in the job descriptions of available employment opportunities. Theoretically, this study is grounded in human capital theory and it explores the indiscriminate nature of the data regarding a student’s required education level to achieve the prescribed learning competences. With the aid of a quantitative content analysis of selected employment opportunities, the research sought to explore: How are learning competences, as outlined by international organizations, aligned to career competences in the knowledge-based economy? The main conclusion suggests two major findings. First, there is a degree of alignment in the existence of learning competences as outlined in international frameworks and career competences as delineated in employment opportunities. Second, there is a divergence in the way the economic and education systems prioritize the career and learning competences respectively, which may account for the disagreement in the preparedness of students for employment in the knowledge-based economy. Finally, I conclude by asserting that investments should be made in compulsory education to align the priorities of these competences ensure all students are competent for employment in the knowledge-based economy.