English communication skills for employability: the perspectives of employers in Bahrain

Andrew Thomas, Casey Piquette, David McMaster

Abstract


Whilst English remains the language of global commerce, the role and outcomes of English language provision in English-medium higher education institutions in the Arab Gulf countries remains central to any discussion on graduate profile and the employability of graduates in the global marketplace. This paper describes the findings of research into English workplace communication skills amongst a sample of Bahrain employers and students at Bahrain Polytechnic. Using a mixed methods approach, data was gathered through telephone interviews, student workplace simulations and employer focus groups. Findings show that generic employability skills, channelled through English as a second or additional language, are highly valued by Bahrain’s employers. In particular, students need to market themselves as confident, knowledgeable individuals during the recruitment process and after recruitment, continuing to operate successfully in the sociolinguistic culture of their company. Consequently, it is concluded that English language training in higher education programmes needs to move from purely linguistic and degree-related content areas to a broader remit of English for communication purposes that covers both specialised discourse fields and broader generic employability skills and competencies.

Keywords


English language; employability

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18538/lthe.v13.n1.227