Understanding planning students’ self-perceived employability in an uncertain future
Planning students are entering an increasingly competitive professional labour market. To understand their selfperceived employability and identify the employability-enhancing strategies they engage in to improve their graduate employment prospects, this paper analyses survey data collected from 106 undergraduate students at a large Australian university. Three key themes are identified as important for graduate employability from the perspective of planning students: education; personal attributes and assets; and appropriate professional experience. This study finds that many respondents were critical of the extent to which they believed their university studies were positively positioned for the real world of planning and positively positioned them to succeed in the graduate employment market relative to other planning graduates. To address these limitations, respondents emphasised the importance of developing personal and professional networks with peers and engaging in skills-enhancing activities, and revealed an expectation that they may need to engage in unpaid professional work experience. However, notwithstanding these efforts to actively moderate the impact of self-perceived personal skills and experiential deficits on their employability, there was a nascent acknowledgement that despite investing significant effort into developing networks, getting professional experience, and modelling appropriate attitudes and professional traits, they may become highly employable yet still fail to secure graduate employment as a planner due to structural constraints beyond their control.
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