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1.1 Background of the Study

The past three decades have witnessed dramatic changes in the types of skill that employees require to succeed in the workplace. New technologies have provided individuals with the means to access and distribute specialized information quickly and easily, reducing demand for skills associated with the storage and retrieval of detailed technical information (e.g., memorization and classification for archival purposes). In contrast, the ability to source, process, manage, communicate and apply knowledge across diverse contexts has come to be seen as critical for workplace success. Employers who operate in global labour markets now seek employees who possess not only high-level technical or job-specific competencies, but also, high levels of what are known as generic skill competencies.

The term ‘generic skills’ is widely used to refer to a range of qualities and capacities that are increasingly viewed as important in secondary school. These include thinking skills such aslogical and analytical reasoning, problem solving and, intellectual curiosity; effective communication skills, teamwork skills, and capacities to identify, access and manage knowledge and information; personal attributes such as imagination, creativity and intellectual rigour, and values such as ethical practice, persistence, integrity and tolerance Barnett  (1997). This diverse collection of qualities and capacities is distinguished from the discipline-specific knowledge and associated technical skills that traditionally are associated with secondary school. While some of the ‘skills’ listed have significant physical components, e.g. body language in interpersonal communication, others are mainly mental. Still others are, strictly speaking, not so much skills as attitudes and dispositions. Generally when people talk about ‘generic skills’ they are referring to a very mixed bag of things – skill components, attitudes, values and dispositions. Some of these may not be improved with practice in the narrow sense of guided repetition. Rather the attitudinal and dispositional qualities are better seen as products of cultural, ethical and social circumstances that may be refined and modified by knowledge and reflection.


Kearns (2001) defines generic skills as key competencies that can be used across a large number of different occupations and they provide a platform for the development of employability skills needed by young people and adults. Generic skills involve little or no interaction with machines, but help individuals maintain positive social relationships and contribute to the work environment. Key generic skills include communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, using your initiative and being self-motivated, working under pressure and to deadlines, organizational skills, tea working, ability to learn and adapt, using mathematical ideas and techniques, using technology, valuing diversity and difference and  negotiation skills. These skills are independent of sector, underpin technical skills and draw on personal attributes. However, the extent by which these skills need to be possessed varies from one occupational grouping to another.

As noted by Male (2010), the term generic skill in general, is used to refer to competencies that can be applied across different job and life contexts. For example, most employees are now expected to exhibit a global mindset, which includes the ability to look at the broader context, be flexible and undertake a variety of different tasks. These competencies are not specific to any given job or work role – they are generic in that they are critical to success across different types of jobs. Other frequently cited examples of generic competencies include skills such as communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution. Beyond job specific competencies, a set of skills which are generic to a cluster of occupations is required for effective participation in the knowledge based economy. Thus, employers are putting more weight on generic skills (Firth, 2011).

According to Sanders (2008), effective teachers engage in communication. They speak at appropriate volumes; they speak clearly; and they speak at an appropriate pace. Effective teachers have rapport with students address individual students by name, announce avail-ability for consultation, offer help to students with problems, show tolerance, talk with students, and acknowledge diversity. Bridging the gap between course content and the “real” world is important for student understanding, students need to see the relevancy of information. Computer teachers demonstrate the need to use relevancy in instruction to provide holistic context for learning, integrate materials from the world, provide access to external sources, and provide opportunities for learners to apply learning to the external world.

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