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Exploring the employability strengths of students from diverse backgrounds: A curricular perspective

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 11:00am – 11:30am parallel session



Room 7 – 301-G053 Med Chem



Dr Thanh Nga Nguyen, PhD
Western Sydney University, Australia

John Juriansz, MPP
Western Sydney University, Australia



Universities are expected to provide students with authentic, engaging and diverse learning experiences tailored to their interests, capabilities and aspirations, and anticipating the workforce trends and skills required from graduates. In multicultural countries which possess a great number of social cultural communities, the skills of migrants should be perceived as one of the leading contributors to employment outcomes in both local and global markets. In a global environment, graduates with international experience would seem to have an employability advantage over those with only local knowledge.

With skilled migrants accounting for approximately 62% of arrivals, there is need to further examine how universities may enhance student graduate employability strategies by accommodating and incorporating the socio-cultural background within a student’s experience of university study. This small-scale pilot study explores curriculum initiatives that foster student backgrounds as explicit employability strengths.

The data were collected at a cosmopolitan and metropolitan university which is located in one of the most diverse, fast-growing and dynamically changing areas in Australia. While the university has a rich diversity of students, it is unclear whether the courses offered at this university productively utilise student cultural backgrounds as a curricular resource to enhance student career competitiveness. Data were collected from document analysis of two professional programs and follow-up individual interviews with two Directors of Academic Program. 

This small-scale qualitative study, which draws on Hammers’ (2009) Intercultural Development Continuum, has found that students lack the explicit curricular support required to prepare them to capitalise upon their cultural background as a strength for future employability. This study reveals a number of corollary questions as to whether universities are sufficiently supporting students for the future of work. In particular, have Australian educators been slow in utilising the cultural backgrounds of its students as valuable curricular resources and, if so, how can higher education curriculum embrace student social-cultural background as an employability strength? While the specific context and findings here relate to a region in Australia, the findings are likely to provide useful insights in many different contexts.



Hammer, M. R. (2009). The Intercultural Development Inventory. In M. A. Moodian (Ed.), Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence (pp. 203-217). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage


Presentation topic

Students – Future Graduates

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