Experience the key to work

STARTING this year, University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Shoalhaven Campus is offering workplace learning for courses that don’t offer internships as an integrated subject.

Head of Shoalhaven Campus Robbie Collins said the university had been proactive in possible issues relating to student employment after recent research showed students found it difficult to get jobs matched to their studies.

“It was invented this year because our research said this is problematic at the moment,” she said.

“UOW invented these subjects for career-ready students to link up with employers for learning and practice in their field.

“It has been designed so students can fit this in with their study schedules.”

Universities Australia announced last week it would address concerns students in disciplines including maths and science did not graduate with relevant professional experience, unlike their peers with degrees in law and teaching. 

Local case worker Merryn Sayer said as a social work student she made sure she applied herself to obtaining workplace qualities before she graduated and that her employer goes out of its way to recruit young people.

“I did a degree in social work at Wollongong University and a part of that was to do two sessions of workplace learning,” she said.

“I chose to do mine in Townsville and the second I did in Nowra. I chose to do that though so I could explore and improve my skills.

“I didn’t find it that hard to get a job once I left university. I left in April and I would say I had a full-time job by July. I did do a lot of volunteer work which might have helped.”

Ms Sayer said while she was job hunting, she would have liked to have received more feedback from organisations to which she applied.

Local resident Matt Dallas, who was a teacher at the Shoalhaven campus for three years, said it was difficult for him to say first hand if his students were unable to find jobs in their related study field.

“I do remember one student who asked me about how to get into the workforce as she had heard I had experience in the field she was hoping to get into,” he said.

“There are always opportunities for students to seek that advice but it’s my experience that there aren’t too many students who do actively seek that advice because they are focused on finishing their studies.”

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