Staff working in the ‘third space’ of graduate employability occupy non-traditional career pathways yet are central to facilitating strategies that directly enhance students’ work-readiness.
Their contributions to higher education practice should be surfaced and celebrated and their challenges confronted (CMM, 8 March 2023).
Higher education is crucial in developing a highly skilled workforce for the future.
The Higher Education Accord Interim Report (2023) highlights the importance of supporting the development of students’ work readiness through initiatives such as work-integrated learning and other employability-related initiatives. To provide a fair and inclusive educational experience for all students, a strategic approach to planning and designing employability initiatives, in collaboration with industry and students, is essential (Future Campus, 8 August 2023).
Although this may present challenges, such as lack of time, expertise, and resources, the report acknowledges that overcoming these obstacles is vital for success. But how?
To ensure student success, the Accord Report suggests that academic staff should possess relevant industry experience and professional networks to support students’ employability development. It is important to note that approaches to developing students’ employability cannot be achieved by academic staff alone, but must include academic, professional staff and often industry or community partners working together.
At the same time, it is important to note that there is a challenge in the composition of the existing workforce charged with this task: the community of careers and employability professionals in higher education is diverse and diffuse (CMM, 15 May 2022), which undermines cohesion and collaboration.
Although the Accord Report poses challenges, it presents opportunities for universities to consider how they enable staff to collaborate with students, industry, and each other (CMM, 11 June 2023).
In addition to the need for skilled educators in higher education, there must also be more investment in teaching capability development to maintain the quality of teaching. The report recommends promoting teaching excellence, enhancing industry mobility, and strengthening professional development.
In recognition of these challenges, the Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability is calling for papers for a special issue on “The graduate employability practitioner: What works to develop career, teaching capability, and organisational capacity?”
This forum allows academics, professional staff, and industry partners to share their experiences and explore how institutions can support staff career development and build teaching capability in this complex practice area. Find out more about the Special Issue here.
Lauren Hansen is a Senior Lecturer in Teaching Capability at Deakin University. Bonnie Dean is the Head of Academic Development and Recognition at the University of Wollongong. Michael Healy is the National Manager, Career Education for myfuture.edu.au.