“Employability” is the new buzz-phrase of the education industry.
Over the past few months I have been running workshops with TAFEs, universities, governments and private colleges across Australia, helping them with their strategic planning for the academic year ahead. In the midst of their marketing mix is the usual jumble of academic ranking, affordability, subject offering and prerequisite requirements. It surprises me that the concept of graduate career responsibility has not been high on the radar until recently. When pitching to a student, wouldn’t an institution automatically focus its marketing attention upon offering a graduate his/her main return on investment: the ability to land a job?
I think the answer to this question for the majority is yes: but perhaps graduate career responsibility has been assumed to be the student’s problem, or taken for granted. As the global education sector becomes ever more competitive, education facilities are upping the ante on each other in this space. Some colleges are guaranteeing professional work placements combined with academic pursuits, others offer exclusive graduate fast-track programs with employers, and others still are partnering with government agencies to offer limited numbers of internship placements to their highest performing students.
This is all great and I understand the need for institutions to remain competitive. It is a good thing that more institutions are offering students career preparation support. I also feel very strongly that students should have an expectation that their further education beyond school will set them on a path to a solid career. But I worry about the students who are going to get the wrong message here. Let’s be clear, it is not TAFE’s responsibility to get you a job. It is your responsibility. It is not TAFE’s role in life to market your skills to employers. Graduate career responsibility lies with you.
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