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Unpublished Paper
Constructing intra and interpersonal competencies in a context of lifelong learning
PhD - RMIT University (2003)
  • Jennifer Bryce, RMIT University

The main aim of this thesis is to define the personal competencies that are needed when young people start work. This task has arisen in the context of a society where the nature of work changes frequently and there is a knowledge economy, with mounting tension between the information rich who are employed and affluent, and the information poor, who are not. Indeed, knowledge itself changes rapidly. The thesis is underpinned by a belief that it is more important to have the ability to learn than to possess pieces of technical knowledge. This interpretation of 'lifelong learning' is concerned with engaging people in learning throughout their lives by developing characteristics such as curiosity and an 'in depth' approach to learning coupled with the development of certain generic skills such as planning and organising. The thesis is confined to considering the personal competencies needed at the point where young people enter the workforce from school, or after completing a university degree. It is noted that these days employers often stress the importance of more attitudinal, less technical kinds of qualities. The statement 'hire the smile and attitude and we will train the rest' is significant. The thesis aims to explore what is meant by 'the smile' and 'the attitude' in this context. There are many studies that ask employers about the skills needed for recruitment. But in addition to asking employers (human resources managers and professional representatives), the fieldwork includes interviews and focus group discussions with young people who have started work recently. Two main groups of young people are included: young people who have entered the workforce straight from school, and young people who have completed a professional degree - the professions are Business, Engineering, Law, Nursing and Physiotherapy. The fieldwork outcomes provide a basic construct of personal competence. This is conceptualised as intra and interpersonal competencies, reflecting Howard Gardner's work on 'personal intelligence'. The four broad competencies that result are Communication, Self Confidence, Self Organisation and Working with Others. These conceptions are interrogated and refined in light of the literature, including surveys of employers and development of generic capabilities in Higher Education. Arguments are put forward to assert that it is important to conceptualise these competencies as forms of cognition in order to avoid some of the difficulties that have arisen in trying to undertake rigorous assessment of attitudes and values. These outcomes provide a starting-point for development of a construct of personal intelligence that, it is argued, has the potential to be broader and more practical than conceptions such as Mayer and Saloveys' 'Emotional Intelligence'. Such a construct could be used for the development of recruitment instruments. The outcomes of this thesis will also contribute to the articulation of characteristics of lifelong learners by clearly defining areas such as self-confidence and planning. [

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Jennifer Bryce. "Constructing intra and interpersonal competencies in a context of lifelong learning" PhD - RMIT University (2003)
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