RMIT’s Guide to Diverse & Inclusive Student Recruitment
The opportunity for equitable access to employment options after completing a program of university study is the right of all students regardless of backgrounds or biographies. While Australia performs strongly in graduate outcomes generally (QILT, 2021) this workforce participation is not always evenly distributed across all student populations, notable differences have been recorded between equity marked cohorts and their peers from nonequity groups (Li et al, 2017; Tomaszewski et al, 2019). This is particularly significant for students with disability who are more likely to be unemployed after their degree completion and also make up only 2 per cent of students participating in graduate employment programs (Eckstein, 2022).
Undoubtedly higher education institutions have a key role to play in ensuring that all students are able to access a ‘level playing field’ when seeking out job opportunities but achieving this goal requires collaborative approaches. Such collaboration is evidenced in this Guide to Diverse and Inclusive Student Recruitment developed by Lisa Williams and Katie Adler from RMIT’s Industry & Global Experiences team. Having recognised a gap in understanding about how employers can implement crucial, but relatively straightforward, refinements to recruitment, transition and retention strategies, the team has worked with employers to develop a series of clearly translatable and applied knowledges to the field of inclusive employment strategies. Applying a critical but informed perspective to recruiting and supporting graduates from diverse backgrounds, can ultimately lead to changes that are essential to ensure equity across the graduate landscape.
Of particular note in this resource is that the authors take a ‘strengths based’ approach. For those of us who work closely with equity bearing students, we know that the range of life experiences and associated capabilities these cohorts possess, can positively inform and indeed enrich the workplace. However, in popular discourses these experiences are sometimes unintentionally constructed as obstacles or deficiencies, a ‘problem’ that the workplace or employer has to ‘solve’. The team successfully disrupts this assumption and instead, this publication clearly articulates the merits of a truly diverse workplace. The use of short but deeply descriptive personal vignettes guarantees that student voice is embedded within this resource to ensure a level of authenticity and applicability. The recommendations and strategies provided then effectively ‘translate’ situations into actionable strategies that can be put in place to better provide equitable practices across the employment field.
Both the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) and the Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA) are delighted to have supported this worthwhile work via the Australasian Spotlight on Equity grant provided to the team at WAHED 2021.
Professor Sarah O’Shea
National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE)
Read the guide at RMIT’s-Guide-to-Diverse-&-Inclusive-Student-Recruitment