Implementation of Transversal Competences in Engineering Degrees to Teach a Foreign Language

Published: 2023-01-10
Implementation of Transversal Competences in Engineering Degrees to Teach a Foreign Language
Type of paper:  Article
Categories:  Leadership analysis Law Career
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1705 words
15 min read

As the labor markets continue to change rapidly, the learning environments continue to be unchallenged in providing new professionals across the world. This change has necessitated the need to attain transversal competencies among students in institutions of higher learning. This pertains to the ability to recognize, create, manage, relate, and communicate (Siminica and Dumitru, 2013). Higher institutions are now giving more attention to imparting transverse competences among students and develop curriculums that meet these requirements. Higher education institutions are currently undergoing significant transformations across the world to integrate their missions, visions, and constant search to provide students with competencies and knowledge that will help them succeed in their professional lives. This has necessitated the need to equip students with intense scientific and technical training (Ferrari, 2013). The institutions have also been tasked with providing technical competencies that are transferable to any area of knowledge. These skills are at the center of the success of students together with technical and scientific competences. This scenario makes transverse competency, a key area in many higher education institutions across the world. They are sometimes referred to as horizontal or general skills. The introduction of transverse competences is one of the changes introduced by human resource management in many workplaces to ensure that an ideal candidate for the job at hand is picked. Initial and continuous transverse competences training are essential to provide an updated and efficient organization.

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According to Beacco, et al. (2016), the changing work environment has made higher institutions to include transverse competences in non-language degrees in a bid to remain relevant in their mission of producing highly competitive graduates (Macianskiene, 2011). To understand this phenomenon clearly, this study aims to evaluate the purpose of higher education institutions and the position of transverse competences, relevant transverse competences in a fast-changing professional environment, the relevance of attainment of transverse competencies in non language degrees, what higher institutions are doing about it, how they are doing it, and teaching methods that promote the achievement of transverse competences in non language degrees (Siminica & Dumitru, 2013).

The need to train students to be competent enough for the modern day workplaces is the main reason for this essay which aims to discuss the importance of transverse competency in nonlanguage degrees across the world. To achieve this goal, bibliographical research will be conducted out on the attention that is given by higher education institutions on transverse competences, how these institutions adjust to the increasing need for training students both in language and non-language degrees on transversal competencies, and how to develop a curriculum that meets these requirements (Lahtinen, Leino-Kilpi, & Salminen, 2014). Thus thorough research on literature addressing transverse training will be carried out. A document will be searched, and a qualitative review and analysis will be done to justify my stance on the importance of transverse competences in higher education across the world. In my study, the concept of mathematical and science concepts regarding the future is variation. This is because of different political and geographical situations, the social context and the various activities carried out across the world (Ferrari, 2013). Also, attitudes, expectations, and predispositions are critical factors in the attainment of transverse competences among students. There is always a gap between students' expectations regarding the competencies they expect to attain in the training institutions and the proposals that inform their training at all social levels and which take the need to achieve transverse competences for granted. Many students view the competencies as a waste of time and irrelevant in their field.

The Higher Education Mission and Transverse Competencies

In Europe, higher education has changed over the last two decades. Twenty-nine countries of the European area signed the 1999 Bologna Declaration that had the primary goal of establishing a European Higher Education Area (Ferrari, 2013). This was to reinforce the integration of the higher education systems, of the different countries into one body. This reconstitution is not limited to European countries alone but extends to all countries across the globe (Beacco et al., 2016). Indeed there has been a renewal of the mission of higher education institutions in their functioning structure and political field as well as the growing importance of employability and attainment of competencies by students that boost their employability.

Therefore, both national governments and higher institutions themselves have been working on harmonization of their education offer in order to seek and adapt curricular of their programs to the current needs of the job market and more importantly to equip students with transferable skills such as research methods and communication skills that will enable them apply their knowledge in various professional fields. It is therefore essential to define the concept of transverse competence which is not clear. Literature offers a wide range of proposals on what transverse competencies entail from hard to soft competencies. For example, (Cernusca, Csorba and Cilan 2017), employers and students who own a job consider soft competencies as necessary while students without jobs give priority to hard competencies. To achieve work performances, students need to possess soft skills, able to complete the knowledge acquired during the learning process in higher institutions (Beacco et al., 2016). To generate organizational excellence, the students have to combine both hard and soft skills. On the other hand, there is a considerable gap between the perceptions of employers and higher institutions regarding the powers that should be the graduates' desirable competencies and there is also a weak relationship between scientific and practical needs of students. To address this need, there should be a change in the educational and training industry moving from an informative academic preparation to a formative preparation geared towards personal and professional development.

Transverse Competences in a Fast-Changing Professional Environment

Defining Competence

Competence concept has been first established as the sum of knowledge, skills, and aptitudes that contributes to the capacity or ability of a person to perform the duties and responsibilities of the occupied job. In other words, it means being competent enough for the task at hand (Liu, Fu, Wang and Fang 2014). Three basic approaches to the concept of competence may be approached. The first is the behavior approach. This approach with strong roots in the United States emphasizes professional behaviors. In this perspective, competence is achieved through training and development. The main features of this approach are behavior demonstration, observation, and assessment (Angelo, & Cross, 2012). These are the personal traits such as excellent interpersonal skills that allow a high-quality performance of professionals. A second approach is a generic approach which tries to explain the variation in performance and establish the overall performance that is relevant to a specific role. Finally, the cognitive approach identifies standard abilities that define the variations in behavior patterns among professionals. One of the definitions of competence is offered as the ability to perform the task and roles required to expected standards, (Neelen, Kapros and Walsh 2017). This definition adds more to the importance of the inclusion of transverse competencies in non-language degrees to ensure that the graduates can deliver the expected outcomes in the job market.

Thus, competence can be defined as a set of skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to perform a task. In line with this definition, the ability to successfully meet complex demands in a particular context requires the mobilization of psychological skills including both cognitive and non-cognitive aspects (Ferrari, 2013). According to the several definitions used, the concept of transverse competence takes a holistic approach since there is a link between power and performance in as long as power refers to the successful fulfillment of challenges and requirements; capability assumes a set of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities and refers to the use of various skills in a deliberate way. It is possible to identify two types of competences from the definitions; general and specific competencies. General competencies can be applied to all kinds of jobs and are the basis of attaining all other skills while specific competencies are only used in the environment in which they are developed. It is clear. Therefore that transverse competence is essential for non-language degrees in institutions of higher learning (Redeker et al., 2012). General or oblique skills are acquired in the learning process as an educational aspect. This positioning is useful in responding to the needs of organizational work and the required competencies such as responsibility, proactive, autonomy, adaptability, resilience and transfer of these competencies (Angelo, & Cross, 2012). It is important to note that one of the core roles of education is the instilling of transverse or general competence that enables future employees to relate well with each other in the workplace. This allows them to handle their future roles well. Transverse competencies are learned together with other technical aspects through the use of multi-disciplinary approaches and methodologies (Ferrari, 2013).

The Relevance of Attainment of Transversal Competences in Higher Learning

The importance of transverse competence lies both in the professional delivery of expected outcomes as well as the accreditation of institutions of higher learning (Ferrari, 2013). Both national and international bodies that accredit institutions integrate with their assessment the competencies learned by students in the course of their study in institutions as students and the future as professionals. The accreditation system is essential in an institution's teaching structure and strategies, specifically at the teaching level with the need for more approach both in initial and continuous teaching to ensure the ultimate mission is achieved; transforming the student into a qualified professional (Richards & Schmidt, 2013). It is essential in the evolution of institutions of higher learning from results-oriented teaching centers to competences-oriented teaching. This is more valuable in the following ways; redefining the goals of education, paying particular attention to the needs of the students and learning purpose, introducing adaptive strategies in learning, designing of a dynamic environment that is conducive for learning-one that favors interaction and cooperation, and reaching a new level in the monitoring and evaluation of the learning process in institutions of higher education across the world (Redeker, et al., 2012).

Teaching Methods that Promote Transverse Competence Development

The Council of Europe for reference identifies various levels of language proficiency which can be grouped into three broad categories; Basic user, Independent user, and proficient user (Richards & Schmidt, 2013). These broad categories can further be subdivided into the needs of the local context. It marked a turning point as CEFR can be adapted for various contexts and applied in multi...

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