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  4. Shakespeare, Keleher and Moxham (2007) Soft Skills, Hard Skills and Practice Identity

Shakespeare, Keleher and Moxham (2007) Soft Skills, Hard Skills and Practice Identity

Resource author

Pamela Shakespeare, Patrick Keleher and Lorna Moxham

Resource type



Abstract: Curricula related to practical professions essentially offer a set of ‘instructions’ for understanding what a professional should do and how professional identity is constituted. Such curricula build on academic understandings, professional requirements and employability con-siderations. Qualifications in the practical professions need to address fitness for award [what the educational establishment wants], fitness for practice [what the professional body wants], and fitness for purpose [what the employers want]. Changes in professional education usually betoken a rebalancing between these three points when one is thought to have become privileged and is producing ‘unbalanced’ professionals. ‘Unbalanced’ may be understood in a number of ways, for example, as too academic or not academic enough’, as privileging soft skills or privileging hard skills, as privileging professional bodies to the exclusion of other constituencies. Looking at just one small part of this triangle and using the exemplar of the status of ‘soft’ or generic skills we examine the shifting sands of practice identity as constructed through professional education. Our paper takes the form of a conversation between engineering and nursing using the ways in which soft skills in both professions have historically been viewed in educational, employment and professional terms. We will examine a variety of literature including governmental materials on employability and skills, professional body materials on standards and university curricula in order to begin to formulate some ideas about what the various constituencies of employers, professional bodies and HE institutions see as the process of practice based education and consequent professional identity.


Shakespeare et al (2007) Soft Skills, Hard Skills and Practice Identity

Date added

7th Jul 2007