The Careers Service – driving the university’s employability strategy and practice - inside and outside of the curriculum

An institutional strategy for employability, driven by the Career Service, focusing on cohorts facing barriers to achieve positive graduate outcomes. Unique features include a UOW Career Development & Employability Strategy with key Learning & Teaching activities where career development complements the Curriculum Transformation Project.

Scaffolded activities include:

  • career planning software available to equity outreach cohorts and all enrolled students;
  • compulsory 1st year careers module;
  • an engaging animated video to ease careers confusion (see weblink below);
  • Career Ready electives available at 1st and 2nd year level; and
  • WIL programs open to all disciplines, campuses and ethnicities.

YouTube video

Demonstrated benefit to tertiary students, graduate employers and/or tertiary institutions

Students: A distinctive approach in this Strategy is a design which highly values a career ready culture, as opposed to job ready or work ready – thus preparing graduates for lifelong and lifewide transitions and decisions. Career Development activities available throughout the university experience, and at all our regional campuses, will lead to increased employability and thus a stronger return on their investment…and more satisfaction and confidence with their course and career choices.

Graduate Employers: This Career Ready approach also leads to more effective graduate recruitment, whereby the right graduate approaches the right role, organisation and industry - for the right reasons – leading to improved employee retention and productivity within our graduate employer communities.

Institutions: The scaffolded approach throughout the university lifecycle (outreach, first year, penultimate years and final year students) will contribute to improved rates of attrition, retention, completion and graduate outcomes. Planning in 2015 for gathering evidence of the impact of this strategy will be activated in 2016. We will measure the impact of: one of our subjects within the curriculum; a mentoring program for women outside of the curriculum; and an intensive graduate recruitment preparation program outside of the curriculum. This evidence based approach/strategy will be highly valued by university stakeholders.

Potentially or currently benefits the NAGCAS organisation, its members and the career development industry

We can share the literature, scholarship and educational rationale for integrating career development principles, frameworks and practices across the university experience. This Employability Strategy, and its underpinning practices and activities, provides a plan for other services to embark on or strengthen their existing institutional strategy – to engage senior decision makers, and academic and professional staff, in discussion and strategies to improve upon their employability practices.  A US based software program (Focus 2) has been integrated within our suite of offerings. NACE has found that Focus 2 is one of the most actively used and valuable career planning software programs – used by over 1500 US colleges/institutions. This is not an expensive tool to purchase and integrate. The Strategy is the Winner of the AFR Awards for HE (Employability) beating 3 other academic based finalists. A coup for careers!

Innovation

Learning & Teaching innovation: The University Education Committee endorsed the Strategy in Nov 2014. Underpinned by a 2 hr module for all 1st years (CareerSmart), two subjects are owned and delivered by Careers (Career Ready Learning 100 & Career Ready Learning & Practice 200. The 200 level subject includes an Internship) besides a suite of subjects pitched at international students at the PG level.

Funding stream: The Careers Service receives student load from subjects – currently providing approximately 20% of our overall staffing budget – expected to grow to 25% in 2016, and 30% in 2017.

Student Engagement: The ‘My Career Journey’ animated video which is pitched at students in their early years of university is designed to allay career uncertainty and confusion…and signpost opportunities to increase career clarity and employability throughout the rest of their studies. It is a fun and quirky design which can be shared in multiple settings and with multiple cohorts. (the video is available to view from ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glvuFtddaN4&feature=youtu.be )

Systems: We leverage an existing mandatory Moodle module on Information Literacies (StartSmart) to host the 2 hour compulsory CareerSmart module, to solve the tracking, monitoring and validating of student completions. CareerSmart is being trialled with student focus groups in Nov 2015, and with a discipline cohort of enrolling students in Feb 2016. Students are not able to access their results unless they have completed the module by the end of the mid semester (Winter) break. Hence this is mandatory for 1st years. CareerSmart incorporates the ‘My Career Journey’ video, and Focus 2.

Focus 2 provides access for enrolled students and motivated future students, along with equity outreach cohorts as the Careers Service partners with uni equity teams. Careers based upon Focus 2 assessments are automatically linked to relevant course and discipline options from the UOW course directory.

 

 

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