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Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy

Taking this broad-based public discussion as a starting point, we argue that there is a fourth issue that can and should be addressed with regard to university-acquired transferable skills. This issue has students squarely at its centre and is associated with questions such as, To what extent do university students understand what transferable skills are? How well are they able to connect their university learning experiences to the development of these skills? How well can they articulate their skill-based learning? To date, this student-centred perspective concerning the development of transferable skills has been largely absent in public discourse and in the broader research literature. We argue that this is an important oversight for at least two reasons. First, if undergraduates fail to understand the skill-based learning associated with their university experiences, then they will be less likely to recognize the important skills being developed through them. Second, from a pragmatic point of view, if students cannot articulate their skill-based learning and if they are unable to understand how it is fostered through their learning experiences then they will be at a disadvantage in leveraging these skills when they enter the job market. This is likely to be particularly true for undergraduates studying in disciplines in which there is no associated career path, with learning outcomes that have been predefined by a governing body (e.g., those studying general arts and science subjects).