Last week (April 19), the PACE team hosted a forum on Professional and Community Engagement (PACE) and its links to Employability. Visiting fellow Associate Professor Denise Jackson delivered a keynote and was joined by PACE Director Lindie Clarke and Dr Tanya Evans from Modern History. These speakers, along with a panel of students, and a long-time PACE partner, examined the lasting impact of PACE on graduates and employability.
Since I began my time at Macquarie, a buzz word is making learning experiences REAL. ‘How does this translate to the real world’, ‘Let your students know the real you’, ‘Make your teaching real’. It seems in educating and equipping our students for the real world, it is vital we introduce them to lived experiences. In turn it makes perfect sense that the impact of PACE is life changing, or should we say, career changing.
Associate Professor Jackson’s work examines the relationship Work Integrated Learning (WIL) has on students and how embedding this into curriculum gives students self confidence in pursuing their careers.
Students attribute their PACE experiences with:
- A better understanding of the actual work context of their studies,
- Transforming theories into practice
- Gaining soft skills that employers value
- Building a successful pathway between the university and the workforce and a life of engaged citizenship
Partners stated that PACE students ‘inject fresh ideas and perspectives’ into businesses while facilitating a working relationship between the employer and the university. This has resulted in PACE partners continually growing, and renewing their partnerships with the University. In 2012, 13% of PACE partners offered more that 1 PACE activity per year, in 2016 the equivalent figure is 43%.
While an extraordinary 20% of PACE students are offered employment with their PACE partner, PACE is also responsible for changing students’ career trajectories. Lindie Clark presented real student stories, e.g. a 3rd year law student who had planned for a career in commercial law completed a PACE placement with the Arbitration Foundation and fell in love with labour law. A former student on the panel explained how his experience with PACE changed his path and he is now heading for a career in academia.
As with the implementation of any initiative, there is room for improvement. It was noted that it is more difficult for international students to find placement, and in turn employment. Lindie Clarke stated that while the current approach appears to be delivering successful results, there is a need to adopt the Practice-Based approach, which involves deriving curriculum and pedagogy from practice.
If, however, the results so far are this impressive, we are excited to see what is to come. Stay tuned.
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