Document Type

Conference Paper


This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only



Publication Details

Paper presented at the Higher Education in Transformation Conference, Dublin, 31st. May - 1st. April, 2015.


The term ‘graduateness’ is beginning to be used, nationally and internationally, to describe a range of competences thought to match the demands of the workplace. There is no accompanying unifying definition, nor framework for formal recognition, rather it is used to imply a combination of attributes that varies between types of Higher Education Institutions across the World. In Ireland, the desirable characteristics of 21st century graduates variously include qualities of being ‘Creative and Enterprising, Solution-Orientated, Effective Communicators, and Globally Engaged Active Leaders’ (DCU 2014). Similarly, they should be engaged, enterprising, enquiry-based, effective and expert in their chosen field (DIT, 2013). While the value of these qualities is not contested here, they may be more appropriate to individuals who are growing in their professional maturity, but less so in their first encounter with work. This paper argues that 21st century graduates should be supported in their transition to the world of work by being equipped with the resources to assimilate the activities of their host rapidly, to assess how their particular role is situated, supplied, and constrained, and appreciate its associated expectations, risks and consequences. Graduate success in the workplace could be underpinned by a methodology that guides formative reflection and develops their ability to evaluate work experiences, both actual and vicarious, within a framework that captures, recognises and reinforces the depth of their tacit learning. This approach may help create a solid foundation for long-term employability, enable the realisation of 21st Century Graduate attributes, and presage their formal recognition, at home and beyond, in the fullest sense. The authors offer a comprehensive workplace-specific protocol and an accompanying methodology that enables graduates not only to assert that they are work-ready, but to provide the evidence.