Fay is a student enrolled to study a marketing course. She has forgone her full time job to work part-time to help make ends meet, and tries to balance her personal and study life.
At her tertiary institute, she regularly attends weekly classes, completes the reading, and works diligently to write and submit the unit assessments. The term is filled with stress and challenges, but Fay knows that only committed students achieve their goal of successful study, and attain work ‘ready attributes’ to fulfil their career prospects. Fay keeps her eyes firmly on her future career goals.
Student employability is the new buzz word for tertiary institutes. Tertiary institutes are committed to attain student employability.
What is student employability?
Student employability is a et of skills, knowledge and personal attributes that the student has acquired during their study to become ‘work ready’ to gain employment, and to be successful in their chosen occupations.
With the rising costs of education, student debt and personal sacrifice, students seek an assurance that the money spent on their education, and the opportunity cost of forgoing full time employment is an investment in their future that is well spent.
Employability has made an inroad, and it is an important element within the teaching and learning agenda. Tertiary institutes are now resourcing to meet the employability challenge.
The responsibility of tertiary institutes and training organisations
Producing employable graduates is a responsibility of the tertiary agenda. There is a competitive advantage to students in the job market. This is double edged as students evaluate which institutes provide the best graduate prospects, and employers rely on institutes to develop high quality candidates to fill positions in industry.
Institutes recognise that producing graduates who are equipped for their future is important for three reasons.
1 As partners with students in the learning process, tertiary institutes acknowledge their responsibility to produce employable graduates. It is no longer enough to provide students with their ‘technical’ qualification.
2 A focus on employability can encourage student motivation, leading to better results and student outcomes. Additionally, teachers are encouraged to practice innovative teaching, learning and assessment methods to engage students, and provide higher level learning. This enhances the institute’s and course’s reputation, which can attract student enrolments into a particular course.
3 Employers will target universities where courses produce graduates with attributes that their industry is seeking. Employers through their industry may have input into course accreditation.
Employability skills that employers are seeking in the curriculum via course learning and assessment include:
- creativity and innovation
- initiative and enterprise
- planning and organisation
- problem identification and solution
- intercultural competence
- use of tools and technology
Educators, to enhance their teaching outcomes, are encouraged to apply innovative teaching and assessment methods to engage students in their learning, and develop student motivation to attain higher results. Examples of learning experiences include: experiential techniques such as whole-class activities and discussions to develop reflection, presentation, leadership and professional practice.
How to provide students with market currency in job seeking skills
The Graduate Employability Project, commissioned by the Australian government based in part on 2013 survey data released by Graduate Careers Australia found that graduate employability rates are the lowest they have been in 20 years.
One finding from the project is the evidence of gaps between the perspectives of students, graduates, employers and higher education personnel in how to approach the overall higher education experience for heightened employability.
Institutes offer students traditional careers and employability support. But, it is traditional. An ‘old school approach’ does not relate to the modern students’ technological communication style to deliver superior outcomes.
Clearly, the ‘old school approach’ is ready for a modern technological results driven approach where students are proactive, and drive their career outcomes.
Tertiary institutes, provide students with best practice career development skills to land a job in the twenty first century!
Online Job Seeking Skills programs are the new buzz words. Online learning is an exciting platform for learners as they are tech savvy, use this medium naturally, it is mobile enabled, and it is available 24/7. Importantly, it is cost effective for the institute.
A licensed online Job Seeking Skills program provides best practice career tools to assist students in the job application process. It is user friendly and caters to a range of learning styles.
Topics include: self-assessments with reports, letter writing, resume writing, interview skills, etc. It provides assessment tools for self-understanding, content, templates, sample documents (letters, resumes) and videos on a range of job seeking skills topics. The program includes a recording system for individuals to practice their job interviews, and view their presentation. Individuals can research organisations of interest as part of their job application process, and there is access to jobs via SEEK and INDEED. Students can study at their own time, pace their learning, and spend as much time as they require on topics that match their needs and interest.
Tertiary institutes: What strategies are you using to improve your graduate employability? Share your leading strategies below in ‘Comments.’
Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, and has extensive experience in career development, life coaching, education and training.
Leah is the author of two books in careers and business communication, a former freelance writer for The Age and Herald Sun, and publisher of two accredited online short courses, Mentoring and Development and Foundations in Career Development Practice.
Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA), a Certified Retirement Coach and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.