Educators and career practitioners working in HE have long recognised employability as a complex set of capabilities and dispositions with a range of influencing factors. Universities play a critical role in enabling their students to develop their employability and life-long, life-wide career management skills. The Australian Association of Graduate Employers’ annual survey reports provide helpful insights into the skills employers are looking for in their graduate hires.

However, successfully navigating graduate recruitment processes can be challenging for students. We know many students do not make informed decisions about organisation and role fit, which can have lasting consequences, impacting on their wellbeing and their ability to progress in their career. When looking at it from an employer’s perspective, it is accepted wisdom that finding the right people for the right roles improves workplace productivity. This is why it is important for all students to have access to a variety of curricular and co-curricular opportunities designed to help them identify their skills, values and interests. Evidence shows us that this is essential for effective career decision making.

 For over five years, the Co-curricular Recognition Network has championed student engagement in activities that complement a student’s studies. The Network defines “co-curricular activities” as paid or voluntary, non-credit bearing activities that make a significant contribution to a student’s personal and social development and employability skills. These activities expose students to different work environments and workplace cultures, new ways of thinking, people and organisational values.

Embedding reflective learning practice alongside co-curricular activities is imperative to facilitate students’ transformative learning about self. The University of Wollongong and the Australian National University, co-leads of the Co-curricular Recognition Network, have each developed robust co-curricular programmes – UOWx and ANU+. Both programmes are underpinned by tailored reflective learning processes, developed in collaboration with the ANU Careers team and University of Wollongong Careers Central team. Activities such as strengths workshops, reflective writing guides and group coaching sessions are embedded into seminars, interactive self-paced online modules and employability programs, encouraging students to identify and articulate their skills and preferences and to confidently pursue appropriate workplace cultures and career pathways.

Jo Hoetzer, Manager, Student Career Development Learning (acting), Student Engagement and Employability (University of Wollongong) [email protected]

Faye Chong, Systems and Reporting Officer, Student Engagement & Employability (University of Wollongong) [email protected] 

Susanne Jones, Careers Consultant, ANU Careers (Australian National University) [email protected]

Ash Dowling, Deputy Manager Student Development, Engagement and Success (Australian National University) [email protected]

Asha Tsimeris, Deputy Manager Student Engagement, Engagement and Success (Australian National University) [email protected]


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