Högre utbildning och arbete med personal- och arbetslivsfrågor - om professionalisering och utveckling av anställningsbarhet
Sammanfattning: The issue of higher education and its relation to the working life of graduates has been intensely discussed since the beginning of the 1990’s. There have been constant complaints about an alleged mismatch between graduate competence and competence required by potential employers, regardless of field. On the other hand, representatives of higher education have stressed the independent role of universities, the importance of disciplinary depth as well as the impor¬tance of critical thinking. During the last couple of years, employability has become a key concept in this debate. The situation as regards to the relation between higher education and work in the field of human resources is no different or entails an even more complicated picture. However, research in the field of Human Resource Development as well as Higher education and graduate employment outline some ways of dealing with the problem.
The purpose of this thesis has been to analyse the relationship between HR education and work in terms of employability development as well as to discuss how higher education can contribute to such a development. The thesis also aims at contributing to the debate concerning the professionalization of HR work as well as the responsibilities of higher education accordingly.
The thesis is written from a contextual-didactic perspective. Two investi¬gations have been carried out, one theoretical and one empirical.
The theoretical investigation involved an analysis of the wider research area of Higher education and gradu¬ate employment, followed by an overview of research on the concepts of employability, competence, and professionalization. These concepts were then used to analyze and problematize HR education and work in terms of the development of employability and professionalization. The relationship between higher education and graduate employment can be described in terms of a discrepancy problem. The character of the discrepancy primarily consists in the gap between competence required by employers and the competence held by graduates. The consequences of this discrepancy problem can be described in terms of cultural differences, curricu¬lar problems as well as the preparation of graduates for the issues of working life. These general findings also reflect on HR education and work. Given the complex nature of the HR field and its parallel discourses, the discrepancy problem is even more evident. Opposite tendencies within HRD can be detected within the entire HR profession. Underlying these differences is a variety of constructions regarding the concept of competence, epistemological differences as well as tensions between theory and practice. In the empirical investigation the experiences of students as regards to a course within the HR program in Lund was described and analyzed according to their interpreta¬tion of given tasks, their approach in dealing with these tasks, their readiness to change their approach if necessary and their use of in-group processes as a means of learning. All perspectives were considered in relation to the students’ experiences of their own development. The interpretation of the task as well as their readiness to change seemed most important to the development of employability. As concerns personal development, the attention to group processes and conflict appeared important.
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