The Power of PACE: Transitioning from University to Employment

“It was great to be able to network with professionals in the industry I am interested in making a career of, and I’m currently considering a variety of further study options related to the work I completed on my placement.” Madelyn Hawken (Aspire Early Intervention)

“The structured learning I got through the PACE unit, along with my practical application through Microsoft, really helped me get from an intern into a fully-fledged graduate in one of the biggest companies in the world.” Ronan Chander (Microsoft)

“PACE International has made me aware of so many career options that I never considered or even knew about before… It has truly been an amazing experience and has already become a formative period for my future career.” Rose Dlougatch (United Nations Criminal Tribunal, The Netherlands)

Do these stories sound familiar to you?

PACE Unit Convenors often tell me how they routinely collect anecdotal evidence, such as stories from their students about how PACE has made a difference to their work-readiness, transition into employment, career direction, pathways to further study and personal development. While this information is valuable, it has been challenging to directly link the impact of PACE to employability and other student outcomes. That is, until recently.

The PACE team have been busy crunching numbers and now have quantitative data that demonstrates the impact of PACE on student employment outcomes. For example, did you know that 20% of PACE students who are employed after graduation are working with their PACE partner?
Such findings attest to the power of PACE, supporting emerging research by Denise Jackson and others on the positive benefits of work-integrated learning (WIL), experiential and practice based education on student employability.

In a study of 131 students at an Australian university, Jackson found significant improvement in undergraduates’ perceived ability to perform a number of employability skills following placement. Such skills included effective communication, critical thinking and professionalism. A landmark study funded by the Office of Learning and Teaching, similarly reported in 2014 that both placements and simulated WIL activities had a significant and positive impact on student work-readiness. Six dimensions of employability were impacted, including collaboration, integration of theory and practice and informed decision making.

Want to find out more?

Come to the PACE and Employability Forum and the PACE Community of Practice Workshop, Designing WIL to Enhance Student Employability and Graduate Employment Prospects.

Associate Professor Denise Jackson, a lead scholar in employability and work-integrated learning, is visiting Macquarie University and will present at both events.

Written by Anna Rowe

Anna is a Program Research and Development Officer in PACE (Professional and Community Engagement). As an Early Career Researcher she has published in several areas related to learning and teaching in higher education including work-integrated learning, assessment/feedback, graduate attributes and emotions and adult learning.

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