Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Enhancing university graduate employability strategies

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where I am taking part in a workshop on Enhancing university graduate employability strategies, by Dr. Shelley Kinash of Bond University. Participants were handed an extensive set of papers, including "8 ways to enhance your students’ graduate employability". Also I found a paper "Enhancing graduate employability of the 21st century learner". The amount of material provided was a little overwhelming, but it is all clearly written and well designed (including use of graphics). There are also materials, with a creative commons license on the website http://graduateemployability.com/

One aspect of universities addressing "employability" of graduates is that universities have helped create the problem. Previously only a very small proportion of the population obtained a university degree. Employers could use this as a way to shortlist candidates, even where the degree was unrelated to the job. With many more graduates available, employers can no longer do this.

It seems to me that universities are relearning what the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector already know and implement. Trade training traditional includes work experience and apprenticeships. This applies to hi-tech jobs. As an example, with the Australian Government has an ICT Apprenticeship Programme,  the apprentices work four days a week in a government agency, while undertaking a VET Certificate or a Diploma. There is also a Australian Government ICT Cadetship Programme, for university students after their first year, working 2, or more, days per week in an agency.
The workshop also touched on employability of postgraduates, with surveys showing they are unhappy about the assistance they are offered. However, if the aim is employment, then I suggest the student should undertake a professional degree. Students undertaking a research degree cannot expect this to assist with general employment (and it may well make them less employable).

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