Employability

How to develop employment-ready graduates on a budget?

By Katherine Underwood on March, 31 2022

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Katherine Underwood

Katherine is a relationship management specialist and works closely with Readygrad’s Education provider partners. With a background in growing key accounts and distribution networks in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Europe, she is passionate about developing long-term partnerships with like-minded organisations.

Over the past twenty years, there has been increased pressure on Australian universities to produce 'employment-ready' graduates. But how did universities respond to this?

 

Universities have responded to this in several ways, developing a range of programs to build work-ready skills [1]. Traditionally, internships have long been seen as a great way of providing students access to industry and the opportunity to cultivate skills for the post-study transition.

 

However, internships are usually individualised solutions with long lead and delivery windows, often requiring multiple touchpoints and faculty resources, particularly at a time when staff are as stretched as budgets. In search of more affordable, scalable options, universities are exploring new models. However, one resource that remains underutilised is students learning from each other. [2]

 

Perhaps, inspiration can be drawn from the corporate space, where peer learning is a practical, low-cost development tool. The Harvard Business Review analyses the components that make peer-to-peer learning so impactful: "People gain new skills best in any situation that includes all four stages of what we call the "Learning Loop": gain knowledge; practice by applying that knowledge; get feedback; reflect on what has been learned. Peer-to-peer learning encompasses all of these." [3]

 

These benefits can be also be applied in a university context. A study conducted by WSU showed that peer learning is the ideal context for cultivating employability skills. [4]. n this study, learning became "a social act with peers acting as a tool to enhance learning through discussion, collaboration, and feedback." The study concluded that students operating in groups had shown increased confidence in working with others, development in the application of critical and reflective skills and a greater appreciation of preparedness in the work environment.

 

With such promising outcomes, universities need only to act in the capacity of facilitators, providing the structure for student groups' self-development. With the right support, this could become a low-cost, scalable employability solution and deserves further exploration.

 

If you’d like help developing and implementing a cost-effective and scalable skills development program, feel free to reach out or visit our industry group projects page.

 

Best regards,

Katherine Underwood

Education Partnerships Manager

katherine.underwood@readygrad.com.au

 

[1] https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1235777.pdf

[2] https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/418

[3] https://hbr.org/2018/11/how-to-help-your-employees-learn-from-each-other

[4] https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/96934651/96931471_Published_article.pdf

 

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