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Australian business graduates’ perceptions of non-technical skills within the workplace

Dean Roepen (School of Business, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore non-technical skills from the perspective of Australian business graduates who had recently made the transition from higher education into full-time employment.


A mixed-methods approach was applied through the use of an online survey containing closed and open-ended questions pertaining to graduates’ perceptions of the relative importance of non-technical skills, as well as graduates’ overall confidence levels in displaying these skills within the workplace. Data were analysed and further explored through 12 follow-up qualitative semi-structured interviews by using a constant comparative approach to identify common themes and factors.


The study revealed that the non-technical skill of self-management was reported as the most important skill for graduates who were managing the transition from higher education into the workforce. The non-technical skills which were classified to be associated with workplace socialisation and familiarisation were rated higher than those which were classified as being related to task completion.

Practical implications

Graduates commencing employment within a new workplace environment can benefit from the strategies reported, which assisted with the processes of workplace socialisation and familiarisation.


Perceptions of non-technical skills, from the perspective of graduates who are managing the transition process from higher education into full-time employment remains a relatively unexplored area within existing literature. This study reveals new insights into the experiences of graduates who are likely to be engaged with the issues surrounding the disparity between the expectations of higher education, industry, and the graduates themselves.



Roepen, D. (2017), "Australian business graduates’ perceptions of non-technical skills within the workplace", Education + Training, Vol. 59 No. 5, pp. 457-470.



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