Professional Skills and Graduate Success

Professional skills are important for Unitec students to acquire in their programmes of study.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines professionalism as "the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterise or mark a profession or a professional person"; and it defines a profession as "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation."  These definitions imply that professionalism encompasses a number of different attributes, and, together, these attributes identify and define a professional.  Students with professional skills have confidence, are capable, can apply their knowledge, establish relationships with their peers and have good career prospects. 


The aim of this post is to provide resources, and support to programme development teams to consider professional skills in their own context.  A successful output will be the development of a professional skills outcome for the programme graduate profile, and integration into course learning outcomes, and assessment activities. 

Closely associated with the development of professional skills is the opportunities for students to engage in their profession during their academic study. Courses which place students in the workplace for the purpose of academic credit are called Work Integrated Courses and can be a real asset to students developing professional skills. Read more here....


By the end of this session you will be able to:

Knowledge: To understand the concepts and principles of professional skills.

Skills: Develop a graduate outcome to support student acquisition of professional skills in your programme.

Values: Commit to providing students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to ensure success in their first five years of work.

People: Collaborate effectively with students, stakeholders and the programme development team members.

Learn: Access, evaluate and share resources which develop professional skills in your programme of study.

Integrate: Embed an professional skills graduate outcome in course learning outcomes and assessments.  



To find out more about what is means to be a professional at work.....


Professionalism is a trait that's highly valued in the workforce. It has many attributes, including:

  1. Specialized knowledge.
  2. Competency.
  3. Honesty and integrity.
  4. Respect.
  5. Accountability.
  6. Self-regulation.
  7. Image.

Take some advice on Professionalism from one of the world's biggest recruiters.  Click here....


To fully integrate professional skills into your programme of study, you will need to craft a graduate profile statement. To help you do this we have provided some sample statements from other institutions. You will find the resources here.....

We have developed these questions to prompt your thinking about professional skills  in your profession or vocation.




  1. What are the current trends in professional  skills in the workplace of your graduates?
  2. How does your vocation or professional body view professional skills?

  3. What practices are emerging in your vocation or profession? 

  4. What international standards are in place to support professional skills in your vocation or profession?

  5. What professional skills does an expert in your profession or vocation demonstrate? 

  6. What technologies do professionals use in your profession or vocation?

Once you have developed a graduate profile statement you will need to embed it into your course learning outcomes and assessments. We have resources and training which will support your staff.  See our resource on Designing courses for significant learning.


You may like to take time to consider how professional skills will help your students succeed in the first five years of work. To do this you will need to consult with graduates and employers. Your current students will benefit from a clear explanation of the need for professional skills in their career.  You may like to include this explanation in your student handbook and make it available on your programme site.


To ensure you have the information you need to make good decisions about professional  skills you will need to work closely with students, graduates, employers, and professional bodies. We advise you to set up a consultation project, and survey your stakeholders to gather key information and ideas about professional skills.


You will find a centralised and accessible knowledge base which support information skills valuable to both staff and students. You could do this through a Moodle site, or any other social network. The key is to have a knowledge base that is accessible and to which staff and students can contribute resources. 

We have gathered some additional resources for you to help design your course, assessments and lessons. Click here for more.....


Once you have created your professional skills graduate outcome, it should be embedded into course learning outcomes and assessments. We suggest you map your Information Skills outcome across your programme of study. For more on Curriculum Mapping....


We also suggest you periodically review the effectiveness of your graduate profile. To do this we have created a short introduction to our student, staff and stakeholder survey.Find out more here....

If you would like more information or assistance, please contact your Te Puna Ako academic advisors.



Last updated by Diana Ayling Jun 5, 2012.

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