Today’s job market is looking for graduates with hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are teachable abilities that we can quantify. Soft skills are less tangible, often learned through practical application over time instead of through exams or assignments – these are the distinctly human traits that machines cannot replicate.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) helps students acquire both sets of skills via a range of work-integrated learning and other practical learning components. This allows CDU students to learn and apply their knowledge, both inside and outside of the classroom, making them confident and ready to begin their careers as soon as they graduate.
CDU was ranked equal first out of all Australian higher education institutions for the highest median graduate salary in the country by the 2020 Good Universities Guide. It was also second for full-time graduate employment.
The ranking measures the proportion of graduates who were employed full-time four months after completing their course. CDU achieved a rating of five stars with a full-time graduate employment rate of 83 percent.
A platform to kickstart personal goals
Srijana Ghimire aspires to run her own engineering firm one day. A crucial step to kickstart her goal was to land a job at an engineering firm to gain experience. To do so, she knew she had to pursue her Master of Civil Engineering at CDU.
“I found an internship during the third semester of my university with help from the professors. This internship enabled me to find a full-time job as a structural engineer at one of the best engineering firms in the country,” she said.
“I have been able to get opportunities to learn and deepen my understanding of the field by working closely with senior colleagues on a wide range of projects.”
Srijana, who has successfully graduated from CDU still remembers how her courses at CDU integrated practical learning on campus too. For example, during her integrated design course at the campus workshop – a compulsory unit undertaken by all engineering students – they had to form teams and erect a frame by using teamwork and minimal technical knowledge.
“This activity helped us learn various soft skills such as teamwork, clear communication, safety and practicality,” she said.
Besides these soft skills, she also said that she was able to acquire hard skills that helped her gain employability such as learning the usage of Australian Standards, report writing and knowledge from practical classes and site visits.
The importance of work-integrated learning for international students
For students like Srijana, the opportunity to gain work experience in Australia cannot be underestimated.
Her internship, embedded into the majority of CDU programmes, is what enables international students to transition smoothly into the Australian workplace and cultural setting. Students not only gain a preview of the nature of work but a sound understanding of Australian work culture as well.
This is in addition to the other well-documented benefits of internships. They help graduates reduce job search duration, secure employment after graduation, command higher entry salaries, reduce underemployment and so forth.
According to a placement coordinator at the College of the Asia Pacific College of Business & Law, CDU internships are very useful in helping students gain soft skills that are crucial for the workplace too. These soft skills include leadership, problem-solving, communication, time management, decision-making and project management.
Prior to travelling to Australia and studying at CDU, Tatenda had never travelled or talked to people who were not from his home country.
But classes like cultural intelligence at CDU quickly taught him how to deal with culture shock, overcome homesickness and improve his interpersonal and verbal communication skills. These have been of “paramount value” to him.
He said “My career trajectory has been nothing short of amazing, and I am grateful to all my supervisors who put faith in me and taught me all I know now. From here on, the only way is up.”
Charles Darwin University is preparing students for the global and Australian workforce through exposure to real working environments and practical learning components.