To address the relationship between graduate attributes and the education received from higher institutions of learning is considered a bold gesture. The reason is due to the issues on anti-intellectualism which may erode the necessity of education and question the purpose of higher education. Nonetheless, this is an arena that requires complete analysis as it plays a critical role in the empowerment of students with the right skills in employability and business management and significant, economic benefits. The present study aimed at analyzing the purpose of higher education institutions regarding its impact on the graduate attributes synthesized in graduates in preparation for the world especially in the initiation of start-ups. The following chapter provides a delineation on the topic with a parallel association of the results obtained in the previous section as well as connotations from peer-reviewed journals and articles on the same problem.
Part I: Sample Population Results
The following section provides a brief detailed account of the general results obtained in the present study. The consensus is that graduate attributes are necessary to equip millennials as well as the next generation with the right tools of knowledge and skills to improve on initiation of start-ups and their successive management. The respondents also determined that universities are critical to this achievement and that the government should have a focal role in ensuring that higher learning institutions play their part in a legitimately accountable and responsible manner. As such, the respondents indicated that most of the businesses through start-ups in the United Arab Emirates failed to reach their third year due to inexperienced and uneducated owners. Therefore, the platform in these results sets the pace for constructive discussion as to why the objective of the research is fundamental to the society currently and in the future.
The research would prefer to highlight the respondents used in the present study were not of UAE origin but, of international origin. The participants hailed from other continents from Asia to Europe. The reason for using such a population density is due to the perceived notion that international students have more exposure to start-ups and how to run them compared to local students. However, the current research disapproves the academic standing with results indicating that a majority of the start-up was no longer in business compared to other companies. The premise that international students have more exposure to companies compared to locals should be used as a mirror to how the UAE society operates. A comparative study by Barrie (2012) suggests that there are newer realities that are facing nations when it comes to the next generation and its perceptions about business. For instance, millennials have been categorized as individuals who yearn for success in a swift manner compared to their counterpart generation, Generation X who prefer working hard and for long hours. Therefore, Barrie (2012) suggests that it is critical to analyze graduate attributes based on a region to articulate whether the millennials understand the importance of the term and how to apply it in higher learning institutions.
The purpose of higher learning institutions should be transformational to say the least when it comes to adapting to new business strategies including start-ups. Griesel and Parker (2009) concur with the statement indicating that it is best to acknowledge that higher learning institutions play a pivotal role in presenting the world with the right type of graduates for the business world if not for the other sectors. The new relationship fosters a close relationship between graduate attributes and higher education which is the nexus to the current research. Kalfa and Taksa (2015) indicate that graduate attributes are the qualities, skills, and undertakings of a higher institution of a learning community which agrees that the world needs a desirable generation of conquerors. The present study concurs with the statement. According to the results obtained, respondents indicated that graduate attributes are necessary for ensuring that graduates can initiate successful start-ups. But the question remains on what graduate attributes are best and especially in the United Arab Emirates. The grounds for this reasoning is that Griesel and Parker (2009) suggest that very few studies have identified the commonalities between various graduate attributes that are needed by graduates for start-ups.
The present study through its qualitative data investigation prompted the debate among its respondents. The questionnaire asked the respondents to provide what type of graduate attributes are best suited for the graduates. Economic answers were provided, and this may suggest that the knowledge of what is needed is limited among millennials. Nonetheless, the respondents identified graduate attributes including business strategist, innovator, business management skills and patience (Rao and Mulloth, 2017). The results provide a two-pronged understanding of what is needed for graduate attributes. They are individual based attributes and business-oriented attributes. The information is limited in exploiting the right graduate attributes for the students.
Al Saiqal (2015) has determined that graduate skills are often gained from higher institutions of learning if not in the employability capacities. To understand what type of graduate attributes are in demand for start-ups it is best to link with the current organizational application from graduates (Harvey, 2000). The reasoning behind this is that the world and the economy at large are ever changing and the need for graduates with skills for working with the companies. For instance, Battistelli et al., (2017) suggests that in the United Kingdom have determined that employers are no longer looking for graduates with the technical skills in their discipline or field. They are looking for graduates with the ability to work with teams, be self-supervisory and be able to communicate eloquently. Subject-specificity is not the specific success factor for any business. The present research concurs with Bergmann, Hundt and Sternberg (2016) with results indicating that the type of education a person receives in line with their career is not sufficient to succeed in business and especially in start-ups. According to the results observed in the present study, observations prove that despite the respondents attending at least four years in high-end international schools, the guarantee that their businesses would survive reduced by 71%. The start-ups survived in the first year of operation but, the second and third years were not as merciful. Therefore, it can be summarized that the area of expertise is no longer the primary concern in ensuring success in business and start-ups.
Therefore, the study proposes that the skills needed by graduates are required to incentivize the students with the necessary talent and instruments for future businesses. Graduate attributes ought to be interactive and personal. These include internal and external which allows the graduates to possess the right skills in engaging with other individuals. Personal characteristics including intelligence, willingness and the ability to learn are the primary internal attributes that graduates should possess. The reason for emphasizing on the attributes from a personal perspective is that the student should have a natural thirst to become a learner and not necessarily depend on graduate courses to teach them that. According to Bhanja, Modi, and Galvan (2018), personal attributes are the foundation for the willingness of a graduate to continue learning even after graduating. The present study concurs with the observation with all of the respondents indicating that some of the attributes that a student needs may not necessarily be acquired through education. Further, the characteristics emphasize self-motivation, self-confidence as well as self-management which would improve down the line on self-promotion. Therefore, personal characteristics portray a working culture that develops ideas, takes the initiative and responsibilities to change how millennials think of businesses.
The aspect of communication skills is one of the greatest assets that any graduate should possess. In part, university courses allow students to articulate their talents in communication through assignments and group work (O’Leary, 2017). The ability of a student to understand that such tasks are pivotal to establishing their communication potential would impact on their ability to work with other teams. Communication improves on a graduate’s ability to analyze problems, have excellent interpersonal skills and have self-discipline. According to Kaplan (2017) on a study conducted on communication skills in graduates, it was recommended that students ought to have an understanding of the importance of communication between colleagues and faculty. The process would aid them in the future when it comes to communicating with investors and other partners in a team. the study, besides, pointed out that organizations are changing their culture of operation by ensuring that workers have a clear comprehension of what is communication. The emphasis is placed on creativity in problem-solving skills and risk-taking abilities. The only way to do so is to encourage, especially millennials, on how to improve their communication. The present study did conduct adequate research on what type of personal attributes graduates should possess due to the nature of the research design. However, with the amount of information collected, the study acknowledges that individual characteristics are critical to improving successful businesses in start-ups.
There has been a surge in the number of employers and organizations that want students from universities to have specific learning attributes. This is devout of any technical knowledge that is gained from courses learned by students. The present study observed from the participants that graduates do not have to rely entirely on their professional competence to succeeded in start-ups (Kumar, 2019). All of the respondents determined that learning attributes are the best foundations for ensuring that the graduates understand what is necessary in the modern world. The economy and markets are ever changing and require graduates to have specific skills that are learned and can be carried forward in the evolving demands. According to a study, there are two aspects: instrumentalism and long-term learning skills. Instrumentalism is the discipline apprenticeship where the graduates are taught in conflicting mannerism. The conflict mannerisms are that students are required to learn more than three-course materials that are not practically applicable in business. The idea to this is to ensure that students absorb all the nuances of the academic world before engaging directly with the world. The principal of concern, therefore, is the issue of instrumentalism and its connection to graduate skills for start-ups. As such, there is a definite issue when it comes to the instrumentalism of graduate skills when it comes to improving the graduate talent for the business world.
In the international learning institution platforms, universities have identified that graduates are meant to have certain attributes to match up with the demands of the world. Graduate programs that equip the students with the right skills. The plans have identified that students overtly rely on effective learning. The effective education is primarily narrow visionary and intended primarily to equip the students with the skills in a learning experience to suit the organizational world of academic engagement. With the implementation of the graduate skill programs in the United Kingdom and America, for instance, students have reported an increased understanding of what the graduate skills are needed for the evolving world. This highlights the aspect of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is a concept where the students are given an opportunity to learn educational opportunist available in the real world and not necessarily in classrooms.
The present study observed that respondents were quick to provide alternative courses for universities to implement which would improve on graduate skills. The classes were distinct in being practical including the application of business skills in the real world while learning in school. The results indicate that the respondents would have been more successful while in higher learning institution when they would have learned some aspects of lifelong learning. The underlying philosophy on lifelong learning is that it is ambiguous. It leaves it to the student to understand what is best for them from a higher institution of learning to the actual world. The emphasis is placed on learning beyond graduation and putting it into practice. By combining the graduate skills of learning with personal attributes as mentioned above. On the other hand, the graduate programs entail that the graduates aspire to have more characteristics beyond their graduation skills. But it should be noted that the aspect of lifelong learning is still a grey area and may take a while before it is well articulated. Nonetheless, through the present study, it has been noted that the aspect of learning for future use and academic use are distinguishable.
There is a lot that universities can use to equip students with the right learning skills and graduate attributes. According to Hammand (2015), numerous suggestions have been documented but, require a lot of understanding before application. Among the reformations include the revision of the curriculum. The present study agrees with the change due to the results produced. Based on the results, the respondents indicated that the impactful use of courses that were aligned with graduate attributes would be beneficial in sustaining any business including a start-up. Changing of classes may take the intervention of the government according to the study analysis by Hammand (2015).
Among the suggestions is the change of business-based courses to integrate graduate skill programs as noted before graduate skill programs equip the students with the necessary skills both for employability purposes and transition into business. The powerful gesture of any graduate program is to improve the outlook that students have, including millennials, of the competitiveness of the job and business world (Harvey, 2000). Another suggestion is the integration of business specified schools. Industry defined schools only present students with challenging courses and practical exposure to the real world. The conventional universities have amalgamated numerous courses from engineering to information technology to business. The quality of education presented is questioned not on the materials but, the resultant graduates who need to be ready to take over the business world. The academic world is only suited to present graduates who are theoretically conversant with theories and philosophies on to the world. The new organizational change in universities is to limit the theoretical perspectives among graduates. There is the question on whether graduate attributes are hidden within the curriculum including that in the United Arab Emirates (Irwansyah and Tripalupi, 2019). If so, it should be discovered to improve on how students can gather more knowledge and skills in the process of seeking education for a brighter future. The proposition is that Griesel and Parker (2009) have determined the delivery of the powers in training and not only in integral learning should be done. The distribution of the skills should be in line with the concept of lifelong learning concepts. To enact this, Goby and Erogul (2011) have proposed the use of empowering learners’ strategy.
The present study concurs with the review by Golden, Daron, Schumacher, and Thomas (2017), on graduate skills on empowering the learners. According to the results of the present study, more than half of the respondents indicated that universities should relate their courses in line with the demands of the market. Empowering learners is a term that often refers to the currency in academic debates on the future of higher learning (Lipset, 2018). The concept of allowing students can be diverse, and it should be noted that only learning institutions can understand what the economy and market requires from the graduates. To ensure that students gain most while in higher institutions of learning, the universities are expected to improve the process of learner empowerment through various aspects. The proposed ones include choice within the curriculum where the learner can decide which units or classrooms to attend in light of their future career paths. To ensure that the learners are gaining the most from their education there needs to be a follow up in their curriculum progress. Hammad (2015) and Huq and Gilbert (2017) have proposed that in light of the organizational change in institutions, feedback is necessary to engage whether the students are learning from the experience. The purpose of the input is to monitor whether the classes or the courses are suited for the learners and whether they are gaining while in school.
The current university courses in the United Arab Emirates are only centered on government-sanctioned courses including business and engineering. Compared to the international courses offered, countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America provide numerous types of classes (Kalfa and Taksa, 2015) According to the present study, the respondents indicated that it would be best to have a wide array of courses from which the students can decide on which suits them best. The respondents reported that if there were numerous types of courses offered, then the ability to transition from any direction would have been admirable. However, limited classes in the United Arab Emirates higher learning institutions limit the competitiveness of the graduates on a local and international level. The need for a large discourse of types is to remove the structured courses in universities that are limiting and empower the unstructured collection of small units with a wide array of the types (Madichie and Gallant, 2012). From the available ones, there will be bewildering options which would improve the graduates’ discourse skills for the business world.
The probability that the number of start-ups in the region would succeed past the first three years if the above recommendation were already in use. The competitive nations including those in Germany and Europe have already solidified how their graduates are ideal for the job market. Regardless of where they are placed, the graduates can begin any business in ay region. The same may not be said of the graduates in the United Arab Emirates (Maxwell and Armellini, 2019). The issue is regarding the learning outcomes that most universities are placing on the students. As such, there is a need for the local universities to re-organize their courses from which the graduates can possess the required attributes.
5.2. Research Limitations and Validation
The present study was encompassed with a lot of limitations. The methodology in itself was a limitation due to the use of computer-based questionnaires. The purpose of an online survey can limit the interaction with the respondents. The lack of contact with the participants is inevitable but, there were limitations when it came to provoking discussions that would improve the outlook of the data collected and as a result, limited the integrity for more information. Further, there was limited interaction with the researcher which would have prompted more questions to improve the questionnaire. Nonetheless, the population size may not have been the ideal to mirror the population focus. The reason is due to the type of research which is academically based but, the research hopes to improve on the present information in the United Arab Emirates based on the feasibility of the study.
The research has presented sufficient evidence that there is lacking skills and graduate attributes on students from the United Arab Emirates. The use of respondents from diverse background eliminates any biasness which may have been corrupted the integrity of the current research. Therefore, the research has been able to provide enough evidence that is reliable and valid.