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Significant changes in the labour market, such as the failure of the Taylorist/Fordist model, the globalization of the economy, as well as the emergence of the so-called knowledge-based economies, dictated the higher value attributed to new qualifications and skills in the workplace. During this process, the management of people has moved away from a focus on function and has centred on the individual [1]

himself, on his flexibility and capacity to adapt to change [1]. Literature suggests that it is no longer sufficient for a worker to be able to perform specialized technical functions; it is essential that he is also capable of demonstrating a wide range of skills which are required in the most diverse professional contexts, i.e. transferable skills [2-7].

Above all, the issues related to graduate employability that have dominated concerns in contemporary European higher education [4, 8-13] highlighted the relevance of including competencies in the curricula, which are expected to promote the new graduate’s access to and success in the job market. The Bologna Declaration [14] has established a turning point in these debates, demanding that European universities adopt a new teaching-learning paradigm. This favours active student-centred learning processes and is grounded on the development of skills for each area of knowledge, both technical and scientific, as well as transferable skills.

Various European universities have sought to respond to these challenges through the promotion of a broader spectrum of education. This is centred on activities that foster the skills and attitudes which are valued and required by the employers [15-18], thus contributing to complement students’ education and training and positively distinguishing graduates in the labour market. Some examples of universities that have incorporated programmes with these objectives are the Universities of Cambridge[2] and Edinburgh [3] (United Kingdom), the University of Freiburg[4] (Germany), the University of Limerick[5] (Ireland), the University of Utrecht[6] (Holland), and the University of Zurich[7] (Switzerland). In Portugal, one can highlight the Nova School of Business and Economics,[8] the ISCTE,[9] as well as the University of Minho.[10]

This chapter presents the case of the Transferable Skills Development Programme at the Economics and Management faculty of a public university in the north of Portugal. It further analyses the perceptions of graduate students concerning the relevance of transferable skills in their sound job performance, as well as the contribution of this particular programme to the acquisition and development of these very skills. Since this investigation constitutes a pioneer study of this specific programme, the results could contribute to its improved adjustment to students’ expectations and needs, as well as to the development and/or improvement of programmes with similar objectives in other university contexts, both on a national and international level.

  • [1] Barbosa (H) • C. Freire • M.P. Santos University of Minho, School of Economics and Management, Braga, Portugale-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2017 25 C. Machado (ed.), Competencies and (Global) Talent Management, Management and Industrial Engineering, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-53400-8_2
  • [2] 2
  • [3] courses-events/open-workshops.
  • [4]
  • [5] for_Research_Students.
  • [6] Workshops/Pages/Useyourtransferableskills.aspx.
  • [7]
  • [8]
  • [9]
  • [10]
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