Employability on a Budget

By Owen Firth on August, 18 2021

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Owen Firth

Owen is the founder and CEO of Readygrad and is a passionate advocate for graduate employability. He and the Readygrad team are focused on changing the lives of graduates through employability training and work experience opportunities. Prior to Readygrad, Owen co-founded and ran Gradability and Performance Education, both dedicated to improving career outcomes of international students. His earlier career included starting a recruitment business, finance roles in IT and PwC. Owen has an MBA from AGSM and is a Chartered Accountant.

Right now, we are seeing a huge three-way challenge in Graduate Employability.

  • Graduates are facing the toughest job market since the 1990’s recession (SMH 18th Oct 20)
  • Prospective students are increasingly focused on return on investment and have easy access to employment outcome ratings (eg compared.edu.au)
  • Budgets and resourcing for Careers and Employability have mostly been cut in the wake of border closures impacting international student enrolments

So how do you provide the increased support and experiences graduates need to compete in a tougher market with LESS budget and resources? Well here are some ideas that will hopefully help as you try to solve this in your institution.

  1. Internship Sourcing Skills

With greater demand for work experience and less resources to deliver and manage placements, the need for students to source their own is increased. But this is hard and nerve-wracking for students. So it is critical that we arm them with strategies and confidence in sourcing work experience and how to make the most of it when they succeed.

  1. Group Projects

Not a new concept but a great way to maximise the reach from one industry experience. These can range from a team of 6 students working on a live employer project to larger-scale “business hacks” with 100 students working on different aspects of a real business challenge. These projects can also be captured and repeated in other live activities or via online learning.

  1. Student Employability Ambassadors1

Student ambassadors are selected and trained to run workshops and seminars on key aspects of preparing for the job market using pre-defined content. This allows one-to-many scaling of delivery and provides unique peer insights and experience sharing. It is also a great development opportunity for the chosen ambassadors.

  1. Employability Webinars

Naturally, these have been very popular recently as a way to engage large numbers of students at home. We have found a series of bite-size sessions to be attractive and effective, but equally, we have participated in some brilliant multi-day careers events. Involvement of industry partners and experts typically increases attendance and relevance.

  1. Train the Trainer

If you are relying on internal resources to deliver employability training programs and support to students, budget might be best spent on ensuring your teams are up to date on the market, recruitment processes, and strategies for students to stand out. Graduate recruitment is going through some significant changes right now.

  1. Employer-funded Programs

The ultimate answer to delivering more with less budget…get an employer to pay for it! Sounds like a fantasy but we are currently in discussions with a number of large employers about this very concept. They are looking for new and deeper ways to engage with students beyond the 5-minute careers fair connection. What better way than with something that adds real value to student employability.


We hope this gets your creativity flowing as we all need to be more creative right now. If you need any help with the design or delivery of any of these or other employability initiatives, we’d be very happy to work with you. We have solutions in all of these areas and more!


Or if you have any comments on this article or other creative ideas, we’d love to hear them. You can submit your comments below or contact our Education Partnerships Manager: Katherine.underwood@readygrad.com.au.



Owen Firth

Chief Employability Officer


1. Thanks to Kylie Ebert at Macquarie University for this great concept

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