Transferable Skills Development Programme?
Subsequently, the same graduates were divided into three focus groups. This number was regarded as sufficient, since the study contemplates a very particular population . This technique has been considered propitious to stimulate the individuals’ interactive discussion of ideas regarding each topic . These objectives are particularly relevant when the theme has been minimally explored. Five questions were presented to each focus group with the purpose of generating discussion among the participants. The order of presentation varied, according to the dynamics established:
- 1. Which are the ten transferable skills you consider to be the most important and why?
- 2. What is the relevance of the transferable skills, when compared to the technical skills, for the competent job performance of young graduates and why?
- 3. How do you evaluate your ability in the transferable skills that you have identified as especially relevant?
- 4. Which factors contributed/have contributed to the development of these transferable skills?
- 5. How do you evaluate the role performed by the organization you are employed by in your acquisition/development of these transferable skills?
- 6. How do you evaluate the performance of the Transferable Skills Development Programme in your acquisition/development of these transferable skills?
Twenty-one graduate students from five different Master’s degree courses participated in this phase. Each group consisted of seven students, a number that has been considered adequate [49, 51]. The sample shares two features that are deemed fundamental to the objectives of this study: (1) the individual has already benefitted from the Transferable Skills Development Programme and (2) the individual has already had some relevant professional experience. The existence of common core features shared by the participants, thus making the focus groups more homogenous, is considered fundamental when aiming to capitalize on the experience shared on a given topic , as well as to generate relaxed and open conversations .
The sample consisted of 16 Portuguese women and 5 men, one of these was Portuguese and the four others were Brazilian. They were, therefore, all Portuguese native speakers. The youngest respondent was 23 years old, and the oldest was 41; the average age was approximately 31 years. All individuals were employed at the time of the research. The fact that some of the graduate students already knew each other was evaluated as propitious to a greater interaction and debate of ideas . Each focus group meeting lasted approximately 1 h 15 min and was audio-recorded. Several field notes were collected by one of the researchers during the focus group meetings.
The following chapter presents the main results of this research. Emphasis is placed on the results revealing shared opinions by the graduate students, as well as on more peculiar viewpoints. Fictional names were used to protect the participants ’ anonymity.