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Soft skill development for employability: A case study of stem graduate students at a Vietnamese transnational university

Christina W. Yao (University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)
Minerva D. Tuliao (Department of Educational Administration, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 11 January 2019

Issue publication date: 23 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore graduate students’ perception of how soft skills are developed at a transnational university in Vietnam, and how these soft skills contribute to their perceived employability.

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilized a qualitative case study method. In depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 graduate students at Vietnamese–German University.

Findings

Findings suggest that faculty utilized classroom-based practices to provide students the opportunity to enhance soft skills that are perceived to contribute to employability, such as skills related to independent work, interpersonal relationships and the ability to work in global contexts. In addition, interacting with international faculty played a large part in providing students the opportunity to develop their independent skills, critical thinking, communication and cultural competence.

Practical implications

Implications include multiple approaches, including faculty training, curriculum development and learner preparation. Institutions must consider how their curriculum contributes to the development of soft skills and how international faculty are prepared to engage meaningfully with students, particularly within specific global and political contexts. In addition, graduate students must also be prepared to engage in a classroom that promotes group work, class presentations and independent work.

Originality/value

This study provides insight on how a transnational institution can foster soft skills for employability in graduate students in Vietnam. Considering the growth of collaborative transnational institutions in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, findings and implications from this study provide recommendations on how to better prepare graduates for employability within a global economy.

Keywords

Citation

Yao, C.W. and Tuliao, M.D. (2019), "Soft skill development for employability: A case study of stem graduate students at a Vietnamese transnational university", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 250-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-03-2018-0027

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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