With the job market in a constant state of evolution, Deakin University is working in collaboration with industry partners and professional bodies to ensure its graduates are well-prepared for the job hunt and have the ability to promote their employability.
The Deakin Hallmarks awards program offers digital credentials to graduates who possess skills and competencies that employers value, including communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork.
The awards on offer make the achievements they acknowledge transparent, by linking to data that verifies the criteria and standards of assessment, and identifies the assessment panel and industry partners who endorse the award. The achievement is also recorded on the statement of academic achievement at graduation.
‘Evidence from graduates and employers alike suggested that if Deakin were to bestow awards recognising certain achievements and skills, it would provide our graduates with an edge when seeking employment,’ Tracey McDowall, Director of Student Engagement at Deakin Business School, explains.
Hallmarks were developed to provide recognition for outstanding students in the form of an official Deakin University ‘digital credential’, which allows graduates to use these accreditations on documents and on professional networks, including LinkedIn.
Students can apply for a Hallmark. Their academic marks are not taken into consideration. For the Department of Accounting, the Communication Hallmark is particularly significant, as employers regularly emphasise the importance of this skill for their industry.
‘This award has been developed in consultation with CPA Australia,’ McDowall explains. ‘Business, industry, and employers regularly cite capabilities such as communication, critical thinking as the key capabilities for success, and, at the same time, as those lacking in graduates.’
McDowall explains that although students do develop these essential skills during their course – particularly through assessment tasks designed to impart these proficiencies – post-graduation documents, including a student’s academic transcript, ‘rarely highlight achievement in these capabilities that industry and the profession require’.
‘The Communication Hallmark is a two-part process,’ McDowall explains. ‘Students must write a magazine article of publishable quality and, if they succeed, verbally present and defend the ideas conveyed in their article to a panel of experts. Representatives from CPA, EY, and academic staff from the Deakin Business School will make up this panel.’
CPA and EY will also provide access to industry networking events and publication of exemplary articles to Hallmark winners.
‘CPA and EY both said they were keen to ensure that the approach we are taking to recognising excellence amongst accounting graduates reflects the needs of the market,’ McDowall says of the companies’ involvement.
‘The Communications Hallmark allows a graduate to show potential employers they have these crucial skills, as endorsed and recognised by the University and the accounting field. It empowers graduates to seek jobs and emphasises their employability.’
The five finalists for the first Communications Hallmark have already done their oral presentations.
‘There is a chance that all five students could be presented with the Hallmark,’ McDowall explains. ‘It’s not about one winner, it’s about whether or not these students have met the criteria for the award.’
McDowall says the Hallmarks offer students the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
‘This award will help graduates differentiate themselves to employers,’ she explains, ‘Evidencing and articulating your capabilities is absolutely vital to gaining opportunities and standing out from the crowd.’