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The third level learning environment today is characterised by many demand and supply-led challenges. Problems of student engagement, motivation and ability to perform in a third level education environment are well documented, as are the opportunities and challenges posed by new modes of delivery. Knight and York highlight the importance of developing a strong set of personal skills, understandings and personal attributes that make graduates more likely to gain employment and to be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefit themselves, the community and the economy

In response to this complex relationship between the expectations of industry, student and academics stakeholder groups, the Get Smart! Initiative is designed to offer an approach to developing personal and professional skills in first year undergraduate students throughout the DIT. It implements a range of innovative learning and teaching interventions, designed to give students greater ownerships of their employability skills, and the confidence to cope with economic upheavals in order to identify and capitalise on career opportunities over a lifetime. Get Smart! Tackles the complex relationships between transferable skills, employability and personal competencies, drawing on management competency frameworks and generic skills models. Key elements are the developments of information literacy skills, a focus on professionalism, and closing the loop between student perception of the fit between self, programme and carer. Engagement, motivation and socialisation are also key tenets.

Get Smart! Adopts an innovative curriculum approach whereby the development of personal and employability skills are integrated into all modules of the first year curriculum. The initiative also experiments with a variety of traditional and contemporary models (including Webcourses and Facebook) to assess the most effective means of engaging and communicating with first year students.