Higher Education Must Prepare Graduates to Adapt to Changing Labor Conditions

A special issue of <em>Human Systems Management</em> presents recent research on the ability of higher education institutions to provide students with the competencies and skills necessary to meet the needs of the labor market

Amsterdam, NL – What role can institutions of higher education play in preparing students to flourish in today’s labor market? Are students learning the skills and competencies employers are looking to hire? A special issue of Human Systems Management presents new research that examines a wide range of issues on the intersection of higher education and the labor market, such as knowledge-driven competitiveness and entrepreneurial thinking, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning and research, globalization, online learning, and human rights for education and work.

“The development of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has been an important instrument in the EU integration process, and employability has been one of its main goals from the very beginning,” explain Guest Editors Aleš Trunk, PhD, International School for Social and Business Studies, Slovenia, and David Dawson, PhD, University of Gloucestershire, UK.
Contributions explore:

•    The gap between academic training in artificial intelligence and requirements of the labor market. Lamiae Behnayoun and Daniel Lang, of the Institute Mines Télécom Business School, LITEM, Evry Cedex, France, analyzed the extent to which higher education is responding to the emerging skills needed by AI employers. They scraped content from a job advertisement website and extracted AI training content from school websites, and applied text mining to identify gaps. “For technical skills there is an overall balance between academic courses and job offers in data science, programming languages, mastery of digital technologies, and of parallel techniques such as databases,” they said. “We noted a gap in terms of interdisciplinary skills, namely research and sectoral knowledge in all curricula, and human and social sciences specifically within engineering schools.” In particular, they note that technical programs must sensitize students to the ethical and regulatory issues of AI to implement it responsibly.

•    Thirteen critical success factors contribute to e-learning systems usage. The COVID-19 epidemic accelerated a movement towards e-learning in higher education institutions. Ahmad Saleh Ali Shatat and Abdallah Saleh Ali Shahat, Applied Science University, Manama, Bahrain, conducted a survey study among college students and teachers to identify whether 13 critical success factors (CSFs), identified through a literature review, were correlated with e-learning systems usage. All 13 CSFs had a positive and significant effect on e-learning system usage; the most influential factors were awareness, engagement, quality, self-efficacy, and technical support. This work will help streamline the e-learning systems adoption process and help educators and learners overcome challenges to achieve successful e-learning systems adoption. “E-learning is not a substitute anymore; it is gradually becoming a de facto technology transformation. It is becoming a crucial part of modern higher education.”

•    How to design a more employability-oriented curriculum in educational institutions. Work experience and formal education have become less relevant for employability, a new study by Anna Rakowska, Marie Curie Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland, and Susana de Juana-Espinosa, University of Alicante, Spain, reports. The researchers asked experts in Spain, Poland, and Thailand to project the importance of major employability skills, currently and four years into the future. In surveys and interviews conducted in 2016 and again in 2019, a preference emerged for generic skills such as self-management and social skills over technical or diversity-related skills. One skill that was consistently perceived as highly relevant in all countries was “novel and adaptive thinking,” which stresses the importance of being resourceful and resilient. Conversely ‘formal education” and “work experience” lost their value over time. “This provides food for thought for higher education institutions, which are more set on providing hard knowledge and developing formalized behaviors than on promoting soft skills,” the authors said.

•    Performance indicators for the evaluation of professors. Researchers in Kosovo found that the quality of teaching is related to a professor’s research and depends on the experience of the teacher, knowledge transfer, technology use, and degree of professor qualification.

•    Selection, training, and development play a significant role in fostering innovative work behavior in service sector employees. A person’s belief in their own abilities is a significant mediator in the mechanism of high-performance work practices and innovative work behavior.

•    What are the competencies for teacher success in a multicultural environment? Research finds that teachers don’t feel well prepared to support learning or teaching human rights, emigration and immigration, shared values, and discrimination. They find their school and their own practices inclusive for minority and migrant students, but not in all aspects.

•    The impact of quality of human capital accumulation, higher education graduates, and economic growth. A comparison of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Southeast Asian countries, and Middle East/North African countries finds that the relationship between human capital and economic growth not only depends on the employment rate of university graduates and labor market matching mechanisms, but also on the nature of the job and the efficiency and productivity of human capital.

•    Transformational leadership can drive organizational commitment and organizational citizenship behavior. Strategies to promote transformational leadership and maximize the feeling of commitment among academic staff will enhance organizational citizenship behavior – actions employees do to support their organization and colleagues of their own accord, outside of their job descriptions.



Special Issue: Higher Education and Labor Markets: Challenges for Society
Guest Editors: Aleš Trunk, PhD, International School for Social and Business Studies, Slovenia, and David Dawson, PhD, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Human Systems Management, Volume 40, Issue 5 

Articles in this issue will be free to read until March 30, 2022 at: content.iospress.com/journals/human-systems-management/40/5

For additional information contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (+1 718-640-5678 or d.murray@iospress.com). Journalists wishing to interview the Guest Editors or contributing authors should contact Aleš Trunk, PhD (ales.trunk@mfdps.si), David Dawson, PhD (ddawson@glos.ac.uk), or Editor-in-Chief Nada Trunk Širca, PhD (trunk.nada@gmail.com).

About Human Systems Management
Human Systems Management (HSM) is an interdisciplinary, international, refereed journal, offering applicable scientific insight into reinventing business, civil-society, and government organizations, through the sustainable development of high technology processes and structures. Adhering to the highest civic, ethical and moral ideals, the journal promotes the emerging anthropocentric-sociocentric paradigm of societal human systems, rather than the pervasively mechanistic and organismic or medieval corporatism views of humankind’s recent past. HSM seeks to help transform human organizations into true societal systems, free of bureaucratic ills, along two essential, inseparable yet complementary aspects of modern management. iospress.com/human-systems-management