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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Rodney Yeomans

Rodney’s professional background includes corporate training, career counselling, university lecturing and tutoring, employment consulting, and VET curriculum development. He is qualified in career and workplace counselling, adult education, and workplace training and assessment. Rodney has accumulated his expertise in learning and development, career counselling, and training over the past 17 years, since he began delivering end-to-end training and learning solutions within the Australian banking sector — ranging from training needs analysis and curriculum development, to training delivery, assessment and evaluation. Rodney also works as a university careers consultant, where he facilitates workshops and provides career and employment guidance to domestic and international students and graduates. His passion lies in the challenge of customising effective learning solutions to meet individual and/or business needs. Rodney’s qualifications include a BA, Grad Dip Public Policy (Education Systems), Grad Cert Adult Education, Dip Professional Counselling (Career & Workplace), and Cert IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110).

From Student to Professional: Skills Employers Want
Rodney Yeomans

Transferrable, employability, or “soft” skills are those attributes deemed by an employer to be advantageous to a job candidate’s success in a specific work role. Such transferrable skills are often included in the key selection criteria outlined in the position description of the work role the employer is advertising. Depending upon the position and the employer, these skills can be many and varied, and it is up to the job candidate themselves to address the selection criteria in their application — and to demonstrate evidence and examples of their practical application of these skills.

As many domestic and international tertiary students complete their qualifications and graduate each year, the demand for graduate positions continues to escalate. From the students’ perspective, competition for these roles can be equally as fierce. In applying for these graduate placements and programs, many students continue to perceive their academic studies and results as being the sole key to their future success. This preconception continues to be common, particularly with international students seeking employment in Australia. Whilst an obviously intrinsic graduate attribute, academic success is not the only characteristic considered to be significant to employers.

Each year Graduate Careers Australia publishes a survey of key employers across many industries, and determines the most important attributes and skills when assessing graduate suitability. In 2011 over 350 employers were surveyed, and of these “Communication and Interpersonal Skills” were determined to be the top priority (as they have been for many years), followed by “Passion/Knowledge of industry/Drive/Commitment/Attitude”, “Critical Reasoning and Analytical Skills/Problem solving/Lateral Thinking/Technical Skills”, with “Calibre of Academic Results” only coming in fourth. Other criteria, “Work Experience”; “Cultural Alignment”; “Teamwork Skills”; “Emotional Intelligence”; “Leadership Skills”; and “Extra/Intra Curricular Activities” round out the top 10 attributes (Graduate Careers Australia, 2012).

Australian employers clearly promote the value of such transferrable skills in their assessment of job candidates (three such attributes rating more highly desirable than academic results). Consequently, the opportunity to recognise and acquire these skills prior to graduation should be of great interest to all students and of course to all job seekers in general. The effective marketing of these skills to potential employers is then the next challenge for all candidates to fulfil.

Common transferrable employability skills, including communication, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and time management, can all be acquired by students, graduates, job candidates, and current employees in different ways. Many students choose to undertake part-time or casual work in the hospitality or retail industries during their undergraduate years, and, even though this type of work is not usually aligned with their ultimate career choices, it can still provide effective examples to employers of their practical application of these attributes. Other ways of developing these skills can be through participating in extra-curricular activities including student associations, social groups, clubs and societies, volunteering, and sporting teams.

Another significant method of developing these key transferrable skills is through education and learning. There exists a unique role for VET and other education and learning providers to offer skills training and coaching to university and college graduates, school leavers, and others entering or seeking change in the employment sector. These learning and training providers can provide vital support in developing students’ transferrable skills for employment and career development. Furthermore, such complementary support can strengthen the opportunities of graduates and job seekers in marketing their holistic transferrable skills and attributes to Australian and international employers.

Increased awareness, development, and marketing of these transferrable skills should be the first step of any student, graduate, job seeker, transitioning employee (or indeed manager), in promoting themselves as a well-rounded employee who is not just academically qualified, but who can also communicate, work well in a team, manage and lead, organise, and effectively solve problems. After all, employability is strengthened not just through the possession of knowledge, but through the ability to effectively utilise and impart this knowledge within a team-oriented, time-managed, and solution-focused workplace.

Rodney Yeomans
BA, Grad Dip Public Policy (Education Systems), Grad Cert Adult Education, Dip Professional Counselling (Career & Workplace), Cert IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40110)

© Copyright CESA November 2012