June 2008 National Careers Forum Summary
The second National Careers Forum was held on Monday 23 June 2008 at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane. There were 95 delegates in attendance, comprising 35 university representatives and 60 employers from a range of industries.
Input was sought from delegates prior to the Forum on the major themes that attendees nominated to discuss at this meeting. The following eight topics were voted as the most popular and these became the agenda for the day:
1. Careers Fairs
2. On Campus Promotions: how can employers and careers services better work together?
3. On Campus Promotions: building opportunities for regional, off campus and part-time students
4. Work Integrated Learning
5. International Students
6. Recruitment Code of Practice
7. Graduate Expectations
In the morning there were eight concurrent discussion groups, each of which focused on one of the above eight issues. Attendees were able to participate in up to four of the eight discussion groups via a series of four 'rotations'.
At the conclusion of the four rotations, all delegates reassembled in the main room to hear about the key issues identified in each of the discussion groups. Participants were then asked to vote on their top two issues, in order to identify which issues would be the focus of the afternoon session. Following this voting process six topics were carried into the afternoon session working parties:
1. Careers Fairs
2. On Campus Promotions: how can employers and careers services better work together?
3. Work Integrated Learning
4. International Students
5. Graduate Expectations
There were no rotations during the afternoon; each participant chose one topic to focus on and joined the appropriate working party to formulate practical solutions to this issue. For the final hour of the day, delegates reassembled in the main room to learn about the solutions suggested by each working party.
Notes from all discussions have been summarised. These, together with suggestions and agreed actions, are captured below.
Summary of Agreed Actions
Agreed AAGE Actions:
• Graduate Expectations - AAGE to use suggestions provided to create a summary of best practice to include on AAGE website as a resource for members. To be actioned by the next Forum on 20 November 2008.
• International Students - AAGE to facilitate the adoption of a single set of criteria which describe citizenship/residency requirements. Ideally a standard wording would be used across the graduate recruitment industry, to include universities, employers, careers directories etc. This to be in place for the 2009 season.
• Retention - AAGE to develop a 'How To' Workshop based on retention. To be delivered during 2009.
• Retention - AAGE to use suggestions provided to create a summary of best practice to include on AAGE website as a resource for members. To be actioned by the next Forum on 20 November 2008.
• Recruitment Code of Practice - AAGE to circulate draft wording for comment with intention to launch for 2009 recruitment season.
Agreed NAGCAS Actions:
• Work Integrated Learning website - NAGCAS to develop a website for use by organisations outside the tertiary sector outlining the nature and scope of work integrated learning currently offered in Australian universities. Deadline - end Dec 2008.
• National Careers Fair Timetable - To assist exhibitors to understand the basis for the careers fair schedule, NAGCAS to elaborate the principles underpinning the development of the national schedule for discussion at the next Forum. Deadline - Forum 20 November, 2008.
• Conduct of Careers Fairs - NAGCAS to develop a set of guidelines for the conduct of careers fairs based on ones known to be most effective in meeting the needs of exhibitors and students. Deadline - draft for Forum 20 November, 2008.
• International Students Website - NAGCAS to develop a website with employment information / links useful for employers seeking information on international student issues.
Deadline: June 2009
• Guide to Campus Recruiting - To support continuation of the high quality recruiting information offered through the Guide to Campus Recruiting, NAGCAS to approach GCA about forming a collaborative working group to advise on enhancements to the Guide. Deadline: March 2009
All the above suggestions are drawn from the detailed feedback over the following 16 pages. AAGE actions are highlighted in GREEN. NAGCAS actions are highlighted in YELLOW.
1) Work Integrated Learning
• Defining Work Integrated Learning
• How to get buy-in up front - marketing, return on investment etc
• What makes a successful WIL program for the employer, student and uni?
• Risk that employers may not always connect with good students or that students may not connect with good employers
• Programs can be disconnected from experience
• How do we get students to understand the experience they have had and communicate this in a 'savvy' way to employers?
• Variations in remuneration - some WIL programs are paid, others are not. Most students need to work 15 - 20 paid hours a week to survive
• Juggling study with WIL commitments can be a challenge
• How to providing opportunities for the average student and students from all disciplines?
• Mature aged students do not usually take up WIL because they cannot afford to, resulting in a valuable group of students being missed
• Buy in is not always consistent amongst academics across universities
• If every institution requires WIL programs, is there sufficient employer capacity to meet this demand?
• Turnover amongst grad recruitment staff
• How to sell to your manager
• Knowing which stream of WIL is best for business
• Gaining an edge with courses / institutions
• Finding out what WIL programs are available at your preferred institution
• How do you make sure the experience is positive so students don't want to leave
• What are the benefits to the employer
• May be tension between what top managers and middle managers expect from WIL students (eg GPA)
Potential Benefits of WIL Programs
• Address skills shortage
• Interns hit the ground running as graduates
• Easy to retain 'middle of the road' students
• Lack of experience amongst GenY can make them hard to manage; WIL offers an opportunity to gain some experience
• Potential retention
NAGCAS to develop a website for employers, outlining variety of WIL programs available. Include:
• Definition of WIL (consider renaming WIL as it does not necessarily have meaning for employers)
• Models and options with case studies eg identify success factors
• Link to one or two key contacts at universities who know all about WIL within their institution
• ' How to' section including a step by step process, key issues (eg insurance) and resources such as relevant weblinks, templates etc
• Benefits to organisation: provide links to relevant research especially return on investment, case studies and how to sell WIL to managers within an organisation
• Provide a link from the AAGE's website to the NAGCAS WIL website
• Consider NAGCAS / AAGE / ACEN collaboration in order to resource the website.
• Form special interest group to lobby for resources to support the increased uptake. Lobby group could focus on promotional opportunities, undertake projects and seek sponsorship for special groups eg regional students
• Liaise with other relevant bodies eg ACEN, ACCI, Equity groups
• In depth dialogue around industry needs
• In depth dialogue around specific projects so that students deliver what the employer needs
• Consider partnerships model - provides contact with a broader range of students
• Consider scholarship model
• Consider a project based model for mature aged students
• Integrate WIL project with assessment for uni subject / course
• NAGCAS to develop website for employers, outlining variety of WIL programs available. This to be carried out in conjunction with the current Carrick project.
2) Graduate Expectations
• Are employers over-promising and under-delivering? Eg at careers fairs, with promotions and offers of fast tracks, about overseas opportunities and about the volume and challenge of work?
• High expectations means they are tough to manage (easier to sell opportunities than deliver)
• Marketing raises expectations which can be hard to deliver
• Grads expect diversity / flexibility - are we overselling this?
• Expect real information, not glossy sales. Work best when they hear it from recent graduates.
• International students have expectations of sponsorship which are not always accurate.
• There are strong perceptions of what different sectors are like
• There is a lack of understanding re general / specific degree intakes
• Perception at some unis that employers only recruit from 'top universities'
• Strong economy raises expectations of what is normal
• Students are not all $$ driven
• Growth of grad industry leads to overwhelming scale for grads
• Challenging for smaller organisations to meet expectations
• Arrogance of top talent due to being in demand and receiving multiple offers
• Big shifts over time with grads over the last few years keeping their options open, receiving multiple offers and potentially making multiple acceptances
• Development - expect mentoring, on the job experience (often arising from the 'sell')
• Expect opportunities to be provided / immediately available, not necessarily time specific
• Cultural learning and development required on both employer and uni sides
• Expect quick progression without necessarily doing the hard yards.
• Expect ongoing continuous development and opportunity
• Expectation of choice and ownership - 'look after self' within the program
• Expectations: career progression, development opportunities, based on peer and network stories
• Gap between intellect and application. Need to focus on transferable skills, not ' sell job' from employers. Eg communication, teamwork, problem solving etc which sometimes are lacking vocationally
• Cadet/ pre-grad programs help develop practical vocational experience and skills
• Expectations of their degree being enough without any practical experience
• How do employers deliver on what grads really want?
• Students receive lots of support and are 'spoon fed' eg through transition programs provided by employers
• Link grads with managers - disconnect with managers' expectations
• Responsibility to provide 'real work' - need to be clear up front re role structure and program
• Grads 'don't know what they don't know'
• Balance attraction with real life expectations
• Use peer networks to manage expectations
• Use honest grads at careers fairs and recruitment drives
• Focus on the reality of a particular work environments - be 'brutally honest' about the pros and cons
• Tailor your grad brand to highlight what will have most value to this group
• Ambassador groups: brief existing graduates to act as ambassadors before you go out on campus
• Maximise use of peer networks on campus (cadets, vacation students, interns, student societies etc)
• Build relationships between new and existing grads within your organisation
• Be upfront and realistic with overseas students regarding criteria; show success stories where overseas students have been recruited effectively
• Provide informal opportunities for Q&A sessions, earlier in degree, eg through info sessions for 1st and 2nd year students, on site office based events on vocational skills
• Highlight non - $$ component of the role. Focus on fit, development, make sure branding is reality-based and allow students to self-select out
• Send out detail such as rental information, regional overview etc with offer paperwork and / or at careers fairs
• There is a role for careers services in facilitating relationships between students and employers
• Develop a briefing sheet for careers services and lecturers, outlining your organisation, expectations of graduates and roles available
• Survey graduates once they have started with your organisation to ask whether or not their expectations are being met. Use tools such as Survey Monkey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/) or internal focus groups. Feed results back into your on campus messages.
• Consider employer expectations of what ' successful' looks like
• Where possible, support overseas placements or LWOP
• Ensure you have strong engagement from the business re graduate development, including individualised development plans and design of learning and development
• Ensure your graduates are clear on your Employee Value Proposition and organisation expectations, so that they can take ownership of their careers.
• Once the Recruitment Code of Practice is finalised, include links to it on a range of websites so that awareness increases, eg, careers sites, Unimail, careers services sites etc. Consider emailing the code to students.
• Align expectations through experiences eg vacationer / cadet programs, shadowing opportunities during the recruitment process etc.
|AAGE to use suggestions provided to create a summary of best practice to include on AAGE website as a resource for members. To be actioned by the next Forum on 20 November 2008.|
3) Careers Fairs
• 2009 calendar works well
• Can still have closing date after the last fair
• Ideally would have WA / SA back to back
• UNSW / Ballarat clash is manageable
• Wollongong / Macquarie back to back or in preceding week
• Timing between Qld Fairs
• Will there be another AAGE fair?
• Why 3 dates for Adelaide?
• Charles Darwin Fair?
• Closing dates: by state or multiple dates?
• Generic careers fair issues include:
Guiding Principles for Careers Fairs (NAGCAS)
• Fairs run over 25 working days
• Max 4 hours in any one block
• More than one day for a fair means clashes inevitable
• Develop a centralised booking system
2009 / 2010 options (NAGCAS)
• Start fairs earlier
• Latest fair date 16 th April
• AAGE Sydney fair could be held on 31 st March
• Have some fairs post Easter
• Squish fairs together - consider combined fairs
• Options: start earlier, split over Easter, compress together or hold combined events
• Ask employers for preferences re location: discipline or general area
• Employers need to ensure their communications are distributed to all reps
• If there are to be talks, direct traffic past stalls. No talks beforehand (IKEA principle)
• Have an employer code of practice at fairs, covering:
• Consider sticker ID for students, indicating their year, their faculty (eg diff colour for each faculty) and whether they are international or domestic students (refer UTS)
• Closing dates:
• NAGCAS to create a set of guiding principles for careers fair timetables for all future years for discussion at the next Forum on 20 November 2008.• NAGCAS to create ' menu' of career fair best practice for discussion at the next Forum on 20 November 2008.
4) International Students
• Soft skills and language
• Lack of access to structured work experience and graduate employment
• Internal - preparation
• External relations
• International students viewed as a problem, not a resource
• Employer issues include communication, disconnect with students, branding
• Risks for employers in taking on international students include visa requirements, length of employment, culture of state and brand. Also when and how to change
• Implications of 485 visas: disseminating info to employers and unis
• 485 visa not as easy as it seems
• Migration options - info affecting choices
• Changes to visas leading to changes in degrees
• Tracking destinations of international students
• ILETs(??) levels increasing
• Managing expectations difficult for both unis and employers
• Unis require intense resources
• Good news - there is a shift in approach to international students
• Publications re grad programs eligibility requirements -need to be standardised for consistency and to clearly state visa requirements
• Include a matrix in careers guides indicating whether employers have opportunities as follows:
• AAGE to consider drafting grid matrix and sending to members for development and clarification
Website and Careers Fairs
• NAGCAS to consider developing specific website for international students and employers, for all unis. Include referrals to official Dept of Immigration website rather than attempt to interpret
• AAGE and NAGCAS to research data through NAGCAS / GCA / Dept of Immigration re tracking international students, with a view to developing a national strategy to promote international students. Present research findings at the next Forum
• Identify case studies which could be put onto AAGE / Uni / NAGCAS websites (written, podcast or video form), of successful international student stories
• Careers fairs - consider preferential offerings to employers who recruit international students
• Migration expo
• NAGCAS / GCA to develop tracking system identifying who is employing international students
• Develop a sub group, driven / funded by AAGE on a national or state basis, to lobby govt re international students being accepted into govt positions and regarding the timing of being able to apply for PR positions with regard to applications
• Employers programs (Qld P.S.) - buddying / organisational / cultural programs; offer work experience / school based traineeships
• Work experience through internships
• Changing employer perceptions re international students - value observed through work experience
• Buddy programme
• Unis need to work with employers to recognise the advantages end to end: process, what to watch out for, coaching and culture
• Increase employer awareness of visas
• AAGE to advise unis re support provided to employers hiring international students
• Education of visas (eg through AAGE sessions)
• C+P required leading to understanding the culture of the employer
• NAGCAS to develop a specific website for international students and employers, for use by all unis. This to be implemented by June 2009.
• AAGE to facilitate the adoption of a single set of criteria which describe citizenship/residency requirements.Ideally a standard wording would be used across the graduate recruitment industry, to include universities, employers, careers directories etc. This to be in place for the 2009 season.
5) On campus promotions: building opportunities for regional, off campus and part time students
• Employers want to raise their profile, become more connected, with these students, who are often of mature age, more experienced in the workplace, and provide a greater diversity of people.
• 'The regionals' (regional universities) need to market themselves!'
• Some employers unaware of available networking resources (eg. Guide to Campus Recruiting (GCA) and the State NAGCAS groups who can provide assistance).
Barriers to reaching these students
• Less likely to participate in WIL activities, vacation programs, etc., due to FT work, family commitments, location
• Graduate employment 'mindset' is 'underdeveloped' (eg. some will ask employers, 'Am I eligible for a graduate program as I don't study on campus?'). Sometimes, 'mindset' only challenged in the final year of study; can be too late.
• Skill shortages in regional and isolated areas mean many students recruited during first year to fill regional vacancies. They convert to distance education and P/T study and become lost to any broader (outside of regional, or alternative occupation/discipline) career opportunities.
• Need a simple point of contact or contact list for students to access and use when a graduate employer wishes to attend a regional careers fair, but can't due to time / resource constraints
• Can employers offer WIL activities off site so as to include more regional students?
• Careers fairs in regional areas could be promoted to all years rather than final years, focussing on career education/development in addition to graduate recruitment.
How do careers services connect with part-time and off campus students?
• University websites including CareerHub and those similar in function (eg. online employer-to-student databases and tools, newsletters, electronic noticeboards, etc.).
• Real and virtual information sessions offered via university satellite campuses.
• GCA's Virtual Careers Fair (VCF).
• 2nd Life: 3D representation (avatars) of people and events.
• Work integrated learning (WIL).
• Responding to student emails.
• All universities with cohorts of regional, off campus and part-time students provide an inclusive careers practice, i.e., all information provided to a university goes out (in some form) to all student cohorts.
• It's the extent (quality, duration or virtual versus face-to-face presence, etc.) of the employer-student connection which can often differ and can make the difference with regard to 'regional' recruiting.
• Consider an AAGE directory of employer contacts for the universities so that those seeking regional students (etc.) are identified. Something the reverse of / complementary to, the GCA Guide.
• AAGE to act as a conduit regarding recruitment at regional unis. AAGE to consider increasing engagement with small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and professional bodies which are relevant to graduate recruitment among regional students.
• Employers consider contributing to uni career development programs, resulting in access and exposure throughout the students' entire uni experiences.
• A systems approach is needed (i.e., holistic and targeted): Consider developing specific AAGE-NAGCAS interest groups, additional to the Forums and / or consortia of employers and universities to address regional issues.
• Leverage Career Development Learning (CDL). Employers devise and possibly deliver part of the CDL programs. AAGE and GCA work together to do so (eg., the GCA publish industry profiles, yet often seek additional authors but do not have staff across all relevant industries for going around and speaking to students at all universities).
• AAGE to consider attending Careers Fairs to represent non-attending members to build opportunities for regional, off-campus and P/T students. (CSU would give free access to the AAGE if it were helping to represent a greater number of employment opportunities at a (regional) CSU Careers Fair)
6) On Campus Promotions: How can employer and careers services better work together?
• Student awareness of Careers Services
• Employer issues:
• How to create a personal touch with each employer / uni when there are so many?
• What are other ways that employers can get on campus?
• Need to broaden the ways employers and unis communicate with each other
• Employers want feedback from unis on effectiveness of strategies; unis want feedback on recruitment outcomes
• Increase employer and careers understanding of each other eg site visits?
• Which contact point is most effective at unis - careers centre or faculties?
• There are different standards and levels of services across universities
• GCA Guide to Campus Recruiting - is it online? Does it need more info in it?
• Need a more streamlined communication service
• Is there a role for AAGE to open the lines of communication (value of contact list from the Forum)?
• Career Hub and Career Hub Central
• What does work? Targeting unis to develop deeper relationships. Unis don't necessarily target employers.
• Student interaction and presence on campus varies
• Traditional models don't work! Employers and careers services haven't necessarily changed but students haveStudents will listen to lecturers (especially adjunct professors)
• Consider development of Directory of Careers Services and Employers:
• Consider a 'who's who' guide of employers for careers services to use. Possibly centralised web based access to contact information
Strategies for employers to tap into the student population
• Skills workshops
• Catered functions
• Careers forums
• Targeting students earlier in their courses
• 'personal touch'
• Importance of 'real graduates' being employer reps
• Internships / work placements
• Engaging with unis through work integrated learning and mentoring programs
• Deepen the relationship between careers advisors and employers
• Access research data to establish what students want
• Use non-traditional models of communication:
• Take a non-traditional approach, with either high-tech or high-touch focus.
• High touch:
• NAGCAS to approach GCA about forming a collaborative working group to advise on enhancements to existing ' Guide to Campus Recruiting " Deadline: March 2009
Three stages of retention to consider:
• Attraction through to commencement
• Grad program
• Life after grad program
• Expectation of between 50% and 90% retention during the first 12 months
• Post grad program, expectation is between 70% - 75% retention, depending on the length of the program
Issues impacting retention include:
• Amount spent on recruitment of grads and need for a return on investment
• Organisational fit
• Market forces
• Retention after the grad program ends
• Increased exits at 2 - 3 years
• Exit for more money (eg engineering to mining)
• Retaining between offer and placement
• Losing to overseas opportunities
• People leave cultures and organisations, not jobs
• Personal / professional development
What are grads seeking?
• Organisational / individual value fit
• Early intervention in offer process - advise candidates as soon as possible
• Personable employers, providing information as required
• Learning and development
• Career opportunities
• Organisational sell matching reality
• Personal development
• 2 way communication
• Clear communication of benefits other than remuneration
• Reality of graduate experience
• Career pathways
• Autonomy and responsibility
• Talent management
• Dealing with competition, money, location and lifestyle
• To use their degree
• Lifestyle, balance
• Meet their personal goals
• Non-financial benefits
• Genuine interviewer(s)
• To be challenged within a supportive environment
• Ability to settle HECS, making their degree worthwhile
• Correlation of information between unis / employers and grads
• Unis need to be clear on expectations in order to assist students achieve their career goals
What is the influence of parents?
• Depends on cultural background and often more prevalent with actual degree choice
• Information about what study path to follow to achieve success
Best retention strategies as suggested by employers:
Attraction through to commencement
• Ongoing meeting between grads and organisation prior to placement, both formal and informal
• Inclusion in organisation events
• Buddy system which commences before placements, inviting grads to social events and staff meetings
• Onboarding prior to official start date - short term contract, part time, in area person will be joining; make sure candidates engage with the business eg Development Day
• Ongoing employment from offer to placement on part time basis or during semester breaks
• Flexible commencement options
• Early engagement with organisation
• Use existing grads in promotions on campus
• Employer newsflash distributed to students
• Provide sufficient information to make an informed decision if made a counter offer. Sell the benefits.
• Stay in contact!
• Acceptance gift.
• Involve new grads with your recruitment campaign
• Provide new / potential grads with details of real life grad experience
• Make your program challenging!
• Ensure expectations are being met
• Ensure you have a support framework for your graduates
• Use coaches, mentors and / or buddies throughout your grad program
• Develop strategy that provides ongoing, consistent and relevant communication between grads, mentor, buddy, supervisor, recruiter etc
• Use technology eg Google groups
• ' Club Grad' after commencement. Own budget, managed by grads, advertised to prospective grads
• Quarterly interaction with other grads
• Transfers to other locations / teams
• Structure of program: rotation versus no rotation
• Career pathway mapping with clear direction examples of other employees
• Organisation-wide graduate projects which cross functional groups
• Mentor for professional and personal development
• Structured development program with the ability to be flexible if required
• Encourage ownership of career progression by grads
• Structured development program
• Ensure grads are aware of their potential career progression. Clearly define the capabilities required for advancement
• Create a talent program offered to the top graduates in your organisation, which is aspirational, project based and business specific and with development specifically structured for the individual
• Support post-graduate studies
• Grad profiles on website as early as first year (eg Australian Govt; Unilever)
• Offer project work across business units to expand their exposure and experience
• Provide support for innovation
• Social events such as sports activities appeal to competitive nature amongst grads as well as providing interaction with others
• Run ' master classes', which combine speakers with a social activity
• Accommodate student / grad values and their desire to contribute to society / community
• Offer the opportunity to attend Community Days - organise volunteer work in the community
• Ensure both grads and their managers / supervisors are educated around each others' style of communication (eg generational styles)
• Consider offering flexible work practices eg compressed weeks, remote access to work from home, family friendly policies, job sharing etc
Life after grad program
• Transitioning grads to mainstream employees, managing expectations and the culture of the organisation
• Sabbatical - eligible after 3 years for 6 months unpaid leave with $5000 for airfares; 3 months leave either paid or unpaid with paid airfare
• Provide support to grads nearing completion of their grad program to start managing their career eg transition workshops from 'grad program' to 'normal employee'
• Incorporate group debrief of grad program participants at program completion to define ongoing career goals / aspirations
• After a few years, create an alumni graduate network
• Explore opportunities for national / international or client secondmentsOffer career breaks - 3, 6 or 12 months
• AAGE to develop a ' How To' Workshop based on retention. To be delivered during 2009.
• AAGE to use suggestions provided to create a summary of best practice to include on AAGE website as a resource for members. To be actioned by the next Forum on 20 November 2008.
8) Recruitment Code of Practice
• Proposed that a National Recruitment Code of Practice be implemented for the 2009 recruitment season
• This Code would be generic enough to cover all employers in both the public and private sector.
• Code would be voluntary. Each employer can choose whether they wish to adhere to the Code.
• Code would not include anything to do with dates or timelines e.g. closing dates for applications, offer dates, decision dates etc.
• Code would not replace existing industry codes of practice e.g. accounting and law.
• Code would contain two sections. One covering the behaviours expected of employers and one covering the behaviours expected of candidates. E.g.
• Example content for employers:
• Open and honest communications.
• No 'bagging' competitors
• Written offer letter
• No pressurising candidates
• Example content for candidates:
• Honest and open application form
• Withdraw if not interested
• Only accept one offer
• General agreement that this is a good idea.
• General agreement that most employers would adhere to the Code.
• Wording would need to be reviewed before going ' live' .
• Code would allow employers to position themselves as ethical and professional
• Perhaps include Code in the front of careers directories? E.g. Graduate Opportunities, UniGrad, GradCareers etc.
• Ask universities to circulate Code to their students.
• Employers could display a special logo on their website if they agree to abide by the Code.If the Code is widely adopted then there is likely to be pressure from candidates for non-adhering employers to participate.
AAGE to circulate draft wording for comment with intention to launch for 2009 recruitment season.