Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Viczko, Melody


Media, industry, and other public actors have claimed that a ‘skills gap’ exists in students exiting post-secondary education and entering the workforce. The Ontario provincial government has developed policy, the Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy, to provide directives to universities in the province to provide skills development to students to aid in closing the gap and providing a workplace relevant education. In this study, I explore the experiences of student affairs and services (SAS) staff responsible for enacting provincial policy related to skills development at the university level by investigating the discourses that shape policy and practices of these staff in their daily work. Data collected from documents related to the issue of skills, and from interviews with SAS staff, provided insight into how the problem of skills is represented in policy and in practice. Discourses shaping the practice of SAS staff related to skills development at times conflicted the discourses shaping the issue of skills in policy, but a neoliberal economic rationality is embedded within the broader representation of the issue of skills, with discursive implications for SAS staff and for students.