There is a common myth in higher education that postgraduates don’t need employment support; that they can take care of their own employment needs. This is not the case, with many postgraduate students choosing to return to study to change career or disciplines there is the need to support these students with employability.
What does research say about postgraduate employability needs?
The OLT project into the Postgraduate Student Experience (2016) found that postgraduate students
- do have substantive employability needs
- need approaches and supports that are different from those designed for undergraduates
- universities aren’t adequately addressing their employability needs.
Recommendations - embedded - explicit - actively engaged
The following recommendations emerged from the research, it is recommended that
- "Employability is embedded in the everyday postgraduate curriculum and assessment.
- Employability is made explicit to postgraduate students.
- Postgraduate studies actively engage with industry to facilitate practical experiences."
(Kinash et al, 2016, p.5)
Suggestions for practice
- Make the employability skills that are developed in your unit explicit to students.
- Talk to students about employment opportunities in your area.
- Bring in guest speakers to lectures, workshops, panel events: these could include previous students who have moved into particular industries, industry experts sharing their expertise.
- Design assessments that are project-based that allow students to apply to real contexts, ideally link with real employers.
- Include practical experiences with industry.
- Include employers in your course development and redevelopment.
- For more detailed ideas see pp.27-30 of Volume 3: Career Development and Employability, National Research on the Postgraduate Student Experience.
- See the Graduate Employability educator strategy videos to learn a range of strategies for embedding employability in your courses, or explore the range of case studies.
Examples of practice and approaches
ACU Work Integrated Learning
Find out why Work Integrated Learning is an important part of the curriculum at ACU.
ACU | What is Work Integrated Learning (2017)
QUT’s Career Mentor Scheme
QUT’s Career Mentor Scheme - The Career Mentor Scheme matches students with an industry professional, providing them with the opportunity to gain valuable information and advice. In this video international mentors and student mentees talk about their experience with the program.
QUT Career Mentor Scheme (2012)
Kinash, S., Crane, L., Bannatyne, A., Judd, M-M., Stark, A., Eckersley, B., Hamlin, G., Partridge, H., & Udas, K. (2016). National research on the postgraduate student experiences: Case presentation on career development and employability (Volume 3 of 3). Sydney, NSW: Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from: http://PostgraduateStudentExperience.com
Page last updated: 2017-12-13
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