1. Introduction to Professional Competences – BKEY401
One of the key modules of level four was Professional Competences (BKEY401) which took place over two semesters. The aim of the module was to help identify and analyse professional and personal skills. Also, a further purpose was to use those skills and to develop them to enhance our career prospects. The next paragraphs show an insight of the different skills we have focused on during the module and how it was useful to the individual. The key skills we have concentrated on were communication, team working and presentation and research skills.
2.1. Communication Skills
According to the Dearing Report (1997) employers are seeking following ‘key skills’ in graduates:
* The use of information technology;
* Learning to learn.
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary for Students (2006) defines the word ‘skill’ as ‘the ability to do something well’. To be successful in the job you have to be able to combine knowledge with skills. During the module Professional Competences (BKEY401) students got prepared to identify their skills by using a Skills Tracker. This method allowed students to rate their competences in certain areas and to evaluate the need as to where improvement is needed.
Communication is one of the ‘key skills’ and therefore has been an important element during the module Professional Competences. Already 40 years ago studies have shown the massive impact of communication (Mintzberg 1973). It has found that managers are spending up to 80 per cent of their time in communicating in one way or another. Based on a research study by Ofcom (2010) consumers are spending 45 per cent of their waking hours with various of communication devices. To improve communication skills numerous techniques, such as role plays can be used. Good communication skills are leading to lots of personal benefits as it helps to build confidence. During last year’s module we have practiced and developed our communication skills by debating or self-reflecting on our communication skills.
The self-reflection was very useful to determine in which areas improvement is needed. I had used a SWOT analysis to reflect on my own communication skills. Looking at last year’s Skills Tracker I have rated myself overall with 6.25 points out of 10 points for my communication skills. As English is not my first language my biggest weakness was to speak out loud during classes as I was afraid to make any mistakes. I certainly have improved in this area by preparing myself for classes in advance and by doing further reading within a subject. Receiving feedback from our seminar leader on our reflection on the debate and our skills during the debate was very useful. It helped to ascertain which arguments have been powerful and which ones should have been researched better. Also, the importance of supporting arguments with statistics and facts has been emphasized.
2.2. Team Work Skills
Another focus was put on team working skills. According to Stevens and Campion (1994, 1999) there are five key areas required for team skills at work:
* Collaborative problem solving,
* Communication – listening effectively,
* Conflict resolution,
* Goal setting and performance management and
* Planning and task coordination.
During the module we have been put into teams but were also able to select our own teams. The aim was to prepare us for the future as in any job it is important to work well within a team. Also, it gave us the possibility to share ideas and have access to a wider range of knowledge. Furthermore it helped us to learn how to deal with a conflict that may have occurred and together agree on a strategy on how to proceed.
Being part of a team has definitely helped me to develop and strengthen my ability to listen to what other team members had to say, also to be diplomatic if I did not agree with another opinion. I was able to use my own communication skills to make my own voice heard. Working at team projects was a good starting point to prepare us for future working environments. Yet, more guidance on how to deal with conflicts or difficult situations would have been helpful.
2.3. Presentation and Research Skills
In the course of BKEY401 focus was also put on developing presentation and research skills. Our task was to compare and analyse four UK supermarket chains by using secondary data. To complement the analyses we had to convert the collected data into Excel graphs and import those into a PowerPoint presentation. Exploring different research sources and methods were a good starting point for this year’s module Business Research and Professional Practice (BKEY501) which builds up to BEKY401. However, it would have been more beneficial to learn more about the advanced use of Excel as the exercises we had to complete were very basic.
Receiving feedback after the task has been positive as it showed you where an improvement was needed. Nevertheless, it would have been helpful to receive more assistance in interpreting the collected data before having to present it.
2. Research into the graduate labour market
This section will focus on the research into the graduate labour market especially concentrating on the labour market in Sydney, Australia. Furthermore the regulations in regards to migration to Australia are listed. Additionally the current job market has been investigated.
3.4. The chosen sector
My plans for after graduating from University of Westminster are pretty clear and I had already decided them at the time of the application process for university. The sector I would like to enter after finishing my BA Business Management with Human Resource Management bachelor degree will be a combination of HRM and tourism and hospitality. In 2004 I have gained a diploma in Tourism and Management at the College of Tourism and Management in Semmering, Austria.
During and after my time at the College I have worked in several hospitality industries and were able to gain lots of knowledge in this field. Unfortunately, the experience has not always been positive, especially when it came to managing staff. The lack of functioning HR departments within the hospitality industry has inspired me to choose the pathway “Human Resource Management” at University of Westminster.
3.5. Australia’s labour market
This report aims to analyse the graduate labour market of Australia, with the main focus on the labour market in Sydney.
Based on the outcome of the Australian Graduate Survey (AGS) (2010) which is released annually by the Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) it shows that after four months of completing a bachelor degree 91.3 per cent are employed either in a full time or part time position. Comparing it with the outcome of the AGS (2009) it is a slight decrease of 1.3 per cent. However it is expected that the graduate labour market will start increasing again over the next few years. Australia’s graduate labour market is more stable compared to the UK graduate labour market. According to a survey from the UK Graduate Careers (2010) due to the high number of graduates only 36 per cent of undergraduates can be expected to find a job after leaving University. This number hasn’t been that low since 1995.
Enclosed is a table to give a wider insight into the bachelor graduates market for business studies in Australia. The data has been collected by the GCA (2010) and shows that 75.1 per cent of bachelor graduates who were available for full time employment are working in a full time job. Due to missing sex data percentages of males and females might not add up exactly to 100 per cent. The median salary for a business bachelor graduate is 46 000 AUD (Australian Dollar) which is about 29 200 GBP (Great Britain Pound).
Table 1: Grad, Jobs and Dollars
Source: Graduate Careers Australia (2010)
According to the Australian Labour Market Update (2010) there is a trend in employment increase by 2.9 per cent and this trend has been positive since 2009. Also, the Australian Labour Market Update (ALMU) states that employment will continue to grow in the periods ahead. This statistics are also supported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) which can be seen in Figure 1 that shows the full time and total employment trend from August 2001 to August 2011.
Figure 1: Full time and total employment
Source: Labour Force Survey, ABS (2011)
Looking at Figure 1 it can clearly be seen that there has been a positive trend in the full time and employment market within the last 10 years. A brief decrease can be seen in the years between 2008 and 2009 during the recession but the market has recovered since then and is continually growing.
3.6. Sydney’s labour market – tourism and hospitality
Chosen Australia and especially Sydney being the market I would like to enter these are a very reassuring. Looking at the long term this supports my decision to seek a job in Australia after graduating. Also, taking a closer look at the tourism sector it can be seen that over 220 million people worldwide or 7.6 per cent of the total global workforce is employed within that sector (World Travel and Tourism Council [WTTC], 2009).
Regarding Inner Sydney which is the commercial and political heart of Sydney but also the home of one of the best hospitality sectors in the country, it shows that this industry contribute a noteworthy part to Sydney’s economy given the data by Australian Bureau of Statistics. ABS (2011) also states that the hospitality sector counts to the five top industries in Sydney.
Based on a study by ABS (2006) it shows that human resource professionals count to the 20 top occupations within Inner Sydney. As I am focusing on a specific sector within the human resource profession I rate my chances to get a job as high as it is still a niche market.
Research on various recruiting websites has shown that there is a high demand within the hospitality industry and especially in HRM. As almost in all job announces a membership at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is required I have done some further reading into it. According to their brochure a professional membership of the CIPD can help to
* Open doors to new career opportunities,
* Raise your profile,
* Increase your earning potential,
* Connect with the very best in the profession and
* Access and influence the latest thinking on the future of HR.
Even though CIPD is Europe’s largest HR and development professional body it is an internationally recognised brand. Therefore it is committed to develop HR globally by driving HR capability within organisations.
Global companies such as Qantas Airlines are offering graduate programmes. Qantas human resources graduate programme is specially designed for graduates with a HR-related degree and takes place over two years. It allows the participant to get a broad exposure to the business and most of the graduate roles are located in Sydney. Areas that would be covered during the training are
* Generalist HR
* Project Management
* Corporate HR
Applications for the 2013 graduate programme will be open early 2012 and I have already registered my interest in the programme for their HR department. After completing the two year training staying with the company for a couple of years is compulsory. By doing well during the programme a managerial position is secure and a lucrative salary and benefit packages is included. Getting into this graduate programme would be a great opportunity for me and would also secure a long term contract with the company.
3.7. Migration and the labour market
To be able to work in Australia a working visa will be required. There are a few options available to get a working visa. The easiest way would be on a “Business People” visa and to work for an international company which has a branch based e.g. in Sydney which is my chosen city. This would allow me to work there for a limited period of time.
A second option would be to apply for an “Employer Sponsored Workers” which means, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship; applicants must be sponsored by their employer and will be able to either receive a temporary or permanent working visa.
The third way would be to apply for The General Skilled Migration Program (GSM) which can be done by professionals and other skilled migrants. People can only apply for it if their skills are particular required in Australia and who are not sponsored by an employer.
Based on statistics published by the Australian Labour Market Update (2010) 33.9 per cent of the working visas granted by the state and territory governments were for the permanent GSM working visa. Taking the last two recent years into account this has been an increase of more than 34 per cent for visas sponsored by the state and territory governments.
Furthermore my research has shown that human resource managers are part of the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) 2011 – Schedule 2 and the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) will be the assessing authority for the visa application.
3.8. Skills needed to enter Australia’s labour market
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) is in charge to analyse the skills and education needed in regards to the labour market issues, including their relationship with migration policy settings.
Recent studies conducted by the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce’s Resourcing the Future: Report 6, have shown that Australia is selecting highly skilled migrants to fill vacant positions for medium and long term needs. Based on the information given on their website professionals holding a degree in human resource management are part of the people taking in consideration for recruitment. Given my double-education, by already holding a degree in Tourism and Management and graduating from the University of Westminster in 2013 with a bachelor degree in Business Management and Human Resource Management it shows that I have excellent chances to enter the market.
Being fluent in two languages (German and English) and also having basic knowledge in French and Spanish are prosperous aspects for getting a job. My position as supervisor at my current job at The Medical Chambers Kensington (TMCK) and being in charge of a five man reception team is of great avail. Within the last two years of working for TMCK I was assisting in recruiting new staff and in charge of the training programme.
3.9. Level of education within the hospitality industry
According to a survey which has been conducted by Griffith Business School in Australia the hospitality industry is ranked as well qualified, with over 64 per cent of operational staff holding some form of post-secondary education level qualification.
Research on LinkedIn on people who are working in the positions I am interested in was very helpful. It has shown that it is important to have not only a good education but also having work experience. During an interview for the Sunday Times with the HR Manager Joanne Wright at The Cavendish Hotel, she stated that internships are very important. In her view student placements help to fill real job vacancies as the student gets a chance to apply subject knowledge and skills in a real working environment. Furthermore it helps for the personal development and allows exploring different career paths and helps to build confidence. Joanne Wright also made clear that nowadays work experience is valued more and more and cannot be replaced with any theoretical knowledge.
A personal recommendation to me would be to sign up for a course in Australian Employment Law as it will be necessary to have complete understanding in this subject in order to work there. Also, within the field of human resources on-going trainings are compulsory to keep up with the constant changes within this industry.
3.10. Analysis of Feedback
Receiving feedback from my group members during the seminar sessions for Business Research and Professional Practice (BKEY501) has helped me to get a wider understanding of the labour market. It has shown me that I had to include more statistics to support my arguments. Also, the information I had found in the first place were not detailed enough and it was clear that more sources were needed. Constructive Feedback should always be seen as something positive as it helps to improve and to do better the next time. Giving feedback to the other has been very helpful to get a wider understanding of the task. Caution has to be paid when giving feedback as it should never be meant personally. It is important to only criticise the information provided and not the informer.
Overall the University of Westminster is doing an excellent job in preparing us for the real world. During the module Professional Competences we have been made aware of the importance of skills and to make sure to continually develop those. Feedback we have received throughout the module helped us to identify our weaknesses and turn those into strengths.
The graduate labour market is very competitive but it shows that the economy in Australia is very stable. Also, analyses have shown that the employment market in Sydney is increasing at the moment and that the positive trend will not be stopping any time soon. Even though working visa regulations seem very strict for Australia researches into requirements for the highly skilled visa have shown that with my education so far it should be no problem to enter the job market over there.
One of the arrangements I have to do though is to complete a course within Australian Employment Law before applying for the visa. Research has also shown that there is an increase in visas granted for GSM by the state and territory governments. The importance of work experience has clearly been stated in the report. In addition I have to bear in mind to constantly push myself and developing myself to be able to work in the top of my field.
4. List of References
AG (2010), RESOURCING THE FUTURE National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce, Report 6, DEEWR, Canberra.
AG. (2011). Visas, Immigration and Refugees. Available: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/. [Accessed 9 November 2011].
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2010c), Labour force, Australia, detailed, quarterly, May 2010, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003. ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, 1st Edition, Revision 1, Cat. No. 1220.0 – ANZSCO. Australian Government Printing Office, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). Australian Labour Market Statistics, October Quarter, Cat. No. 6105.0. Australian Government Printing Office, Canberra.
CIPD (2011). Experience Assessment: A new route to professional membership. Brighton: Mosaic. Compact Oxford English Dictionary for Students (2006) Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dearing, R. (1997) The Dearing Report (series of reports by The National Committee of Inquirq into Higher Education. Available at http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/ncihe/docsinde.htm. [Accessed 5 November 2011].
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2010d), Workforce characteristics, Skills Info, DEEWR, Canberra.
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Graduate Careers Australia (2010), GradStats: Employment and Salary Outcomes of Recent Higher Education Graduates, 15,.2-9, GCA, Canberra.
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Mintzberg, H. (1973) The Nature of Managerial Work. New York: Harper &
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Paskin, B. (2011). The Cavendish Hotel named as best small hotel employer. Available: http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Events-Awards/Sunday-Times-names-The-Cavendish-Hotel-as-best-small-hotel-employer. [Accessed 8 November 2011].
Qantas. (2011).Human Resources. Available: http://www.careers.qantas.com.au/Graduates/Human-Resources.aspx. [Accessed 7 November 2011].
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UKCGE. (2010). The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2010. Available: http://www.ukcge.ac.uk/news/archive/April+-+June+2010/Careers+Survey. [Accessed 7 November 2011].
World Travel and Tourism Council (2009). Travel and tourism economic impact. London, England: World Travel and Tourism Council.