Career Or­bit

Valuable les­sons can be learned if Uni­ver­si­ties, TAFES and ter­tiary col­leges are to ben­e­fit from the find­ings of a na­tional sur­vey into em­ployer sat­is­fac­tion re­leased early this year.

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - LIONEL CRANENBURGH

GRAD­U­ATES scored high rat­ings in the

2017 na­tional Em­ployer Sat­is­fac­tion Sur­vey (ESS) with 9 out of 10 em­ploy­ers award­ing

84 per cent or more for em­ploy­a­bil­ity at­tributes.

The on­line sur­vey was con­ducted with 97 higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions and 56 non-univer­sity Higher Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tu­tions com­pris­ing 97,481 grad­u­ates in­clud­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents with 90 per cent of em­ploy­ers re­spond­ing to the sur­vey.

It led the peak body, Uni­ver­si­ties Aus­tralia, to feel jus­ti­fi­ably proud of the re­sult with act­ing CEO, Catri­ona Jack­son, say­ing that it showed univer­sity grad­u­ates were meet­ing em­ploy­ers’ high ex­pec­ta­tions.

“The sur­vey gives us im­por­tant, trans­par­ent in­for­ma­tion to guide our un­der­stand­ing of the com­plex tran­si­tion from study to work,” Ms Jack­son said.

The ESS is the largest and most com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of em­ployer per­cep­tions fo­cus­ing on grad­u­ate em­ploy­ees, and the only one in­cor­po­rat­ing di­rect ex­pe­ri­ence of grad­u­ates’ work.

The sur­vey, the third of its kind since

2013, asked em­ploy­ers to rate how likely they were to hire an­other grad­u­ate from the same univer­sity or TAFE course if they had a rel­e­vant va­cancy.

The les­sons to be learned from the sur­veys have ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for fu­ture em­ploy­ment, course selec­tion, at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, and shap­ing the en­tire ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence as in­sti­tu­tions pro­mote their brand com­pet­i­tively to mar­ket ed­u­ca­tion.

Data col­lected by the 2016 sur­vey showed that English as an Ad­di­tional Lan­guage stu­dents rated their ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence six per­cent­age points below English speak­ers and do­mes­tic stu­dents.

Randa Col­lett, Head of Math­e­mat­ics with the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment of WA, and an ex­pe­ri­enced ed­u­ca­tor teach­ing in­ter­na­tional and EAL stu­dents, said that re­sources needed to be di­rected at iden­ti­fy­ing stu­dents’ lan­guage pro­fi­ciency, use their cul­tural un­der­stand­ings and make ex­pec­ta­tions ex­plicit.

The most com­mon rea­son given by stu­dents in 2015 and 2016 sur­veys for dis­con­tin­u­ing stud­ies was lack of sup­port with stress, work­load and study-life bal­ance ac­count­ing for be­tween 24 and 41 per­cent leav­ing.

“Such high losses could be re­duced through the planned use of tu­tors, us­ing stu­dent-men­tors for peer sup­port, giv­ing stu­dent ser­vices a greater role and hold­ing more tu­to­rial classes where stu­dents can have con­cerns ad­dressed,” Ms Col­lett said.

Em­ploy­ers rated vo­ca­tional type qual­i­fi­ca­tions like engi­neer­ing, health, ar­chi­tec­ture, build­ing and ed­u­ca­tion highly while man­age­ment, cre­ative arts, agri­cul­ture and en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies were lower on the scale.

“TAFE, schools and uni­ver­si­ties can make their cour­ses more vo­ca­tion­ally ori­ented by pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to de­velop prob­lem-solv­ing, cal­cu­la­tion and num­ber skills with real-life chal­lenges as I do,” Ms Col­lett said.

Sub­jects like phys­i­cal sci­ence, math­e­mat­ics and cre­ative arts that rated low on em­ploy­ers’ sat­is­fac­tion list could be transformed through STEAM or STEM.

It would give stu­dents an edge when com­pet­ing against peo­ple from engi­neer­ing and re­lated tech­nolo­gies, she said.

A ma­jor source of con­cern, in the sur­veys, is that in­ter­na­tional stu­dents rated their ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence less pos­i­tively by six per­cent­age points than do­mes­tic stu­dents with stu­dent sup­port and learner en­gage­ment el­e­ments scor­ing low.

Ms Col­lett, said that, as a mi­grant her­self, she ad­vo­cated schools and TAFES re­view their teach­ing pro­grams to adapt them to the back­ground of each in­ter­na­tional stu­dent, seek ways of in­te­grat­ing them into the com­mu­nity and fo­cus on build­ing learner en­gage­ment.

She was so suc­cess­ful in her meth­ods that, in 2016, her Korean stu­dent grad­u­ated with a Math­e­mat­ics Ex­hi­bi­tion award for the ATAR in WA and is an un­der­grad­u­ate study­ing bio­med­i­cine at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne.

The low par­tic­i­pa­tion rates in the 2016 sur­vey of Indige­nous stu­dents and high rates leav­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion was viewed with con­cern by the 2016 na­tional re­port.

De­spite a range of stud­ies and pro­grams that in­clude Clos­ing the Gap, Stronger Smarter Phi­los­o­phy, Fol­low the Dream, Two-way Learn­ing and the Abo­rig­i­nal Cul­tural Stan­dards Frame­work, progress re­mains slow in key ar­eas of at­ten­dance, lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy, post-school op­tions, lead­er­ship and en­gage­ment.

The road ahead is long and chal­leng­ing with Ms Jack­son say­ing, in a press re­lease this year, that the Com­mon­wealth Govern­ment’s De­cem­ber 2017 de­ci­sion not to keep funds at the level of in­fla­tion would re­duce places for stu­dents in Univer­sity.

“A lack of skilled knowl­edge work­ers in the years ahead will mean missed op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralians to fill the jobs that will be in greater de­mand,” Ms Jack­son claimed.

It may be time for busi­ness to play a greater role through phi­lan­thropy with do­na­tions to ed­u­ca­tion.

Lionel Cranenburgh is the 2015 Pos­i­tive Be­hav­iours Win­ner (WA) and Di­rec­tor of Lionel Cranenburgh and As­so­ci­ates, Career Com­pany. lionel@li­onel­cra­nen­burgh.com.au

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