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Educational Policy Studies News

Harvard Educational Review publishes student employability research from UW-Madison's Benbow, Hora

January 25, 2019

UW-Madison’s Ross Benbow and Matthew Hora co-authored a new research paper examining the cultural nature of skills necessary to be productively employed after college graduation.

Their paper, “Reconsidering College Student Employability: A Cultural Analysis of Educator and Employer Conceptions of Workplace Skills,” appeared in the Harvard Educational Review.

Benbow and Hora
Ross Benbow (left) and Matthew Hora
Their research article aims to analyze how educators in higher education institutions and employers think about important skills students need to enter the workforce.

Benbow and Hora suggest that part of the issue with the idea of student "employability" is the varying conceptions of what skills are actually necessary to consider a student prepared and employable. Their work affirms the core categories of work ethic, technical knowledge, and technical ability, but goes further to suggest different occupational subgroups are varied in how they think about important skills. 

Benbow and Hora conclude that, because of the significant variation, workplace ideals should viewed as multifaceted, cultural models. They “urge the adoption of more nuanced views” among educators and employers alike so as to “take into account the cultural and contextual forces that shape student success in the workplace."

Benbow is an associate researcher with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), which is housed in the School of Education. He also earned his Ph.D. from the School of Education’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. Hora is
an assistant professor of adult and higher education in the Department of Liberal Arts and Applied Studies, and is an affiliate with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He is also a research scientist with WCER, and is the director of UW-Madison's Center for College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT), which is housed by WCER.

Check out their report via this journal web page.
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