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August 2, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Vic Careers have no vacancies for GradConnection

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Graduate employment website GradConnection has encountered barriers in promoting its services to students at Victoria potentially because of practices undertaken by the university’s career service.

Victoria graduates and GradConnection Directors Tim Watts and Robert Milne told Salient last week that their attempts to access students on campus had been prevented by Vic Careers.

GradConnection is a free online service that allows graduates to “research, compare and contrast” graduate employers.

Watts and Milne believe the difficulties may have arisen because Victoria University operates CareerHub, an online service featuring job vacancies, career events and career resources such as job seeking tips and career articles.

“We didn’t get anywhere with the career services. They saw us as direct opposition to what CareerHub was,” Watts says.

Watts and Milne claim that GradConnection, which simply allows graduates to research employers, is not in competition with CareerHub, nor is it a recruitment agency.

“The idea with us is we’re trying to help students plan careers, help students get up and going. It is a complementary service to what the career services are doing,” Watts says.

Manager of Victoria University’s Career Development and Employment Elizabeth Medford says that Vic Careers works with students and employers to provide its services.

“It does not offer any services for recruitment agencies or other similar third parties.”

Medford says that there are a number of other ways for companies to advertise career opportunities to students.

“All those organisations that wish to advertise directly to students have other options available such as advertising in student media, and asking to utilise digital media devices and public noticeboards around campus.”

It remains unclear whether GradConnection’s difficulties are as a result of university or CareerHub policy.

Victoria is one of seven New Zealand universities subscribed to CareerHub. Waikato is the only university not associated with the service.

At Waikato GradConnection works closely with the university and their career service. It is because of this close relationship that Milne doubts the problems have arisen from university policy.

“At their accounting careers fair we shared a stand with the careers services. At some of their CV writing workshops and interview skills seminars we’ve co-presented with them.”

Both GradConnection and CareerHub were developed in Australia. Watts and Milne started GradConnection in New Zealand in July 2009 following the success of the service in Australia, where the directors enjoy a close relationship with universities, including those who operate CareerHub.

Watts and Milne are confused by the response they’ve had from careers services at New Zealand universities.

“We thought anything to help students would be supported.

“We know that for a lot of the career services it’s tough, they don’t have huge staff numbers. If we could help them, that’s what we’re here to do,” Watts says.

They claim that the employers they work with are also confused by the reaction. Many of these employers are also associated with CareerHub.

Watts and Milne have also promoted GradConnection’s free services at a meeting with the heads of all the careers services who operate CareerHub. They have yet to receive a formal reply.

“We don’t expect them to be actively out there saying ‘you need to use this service’. It’s just that, hey, we are here, we’re a free service for students, and we want to help,” Watts says.

Career Development and Employment is one of the services funded by the student services levy. In 2010 the levy was increased to $510 for full-time domestic students. According to the university website, Career Development and Employment costs include the Vic Plus Award and CareerHub.

Students spoken to by Salient were disappointed that they had not heard about GradConnection through the university.

“We’re paying fees, so we should be getting access to every opportunity,” said one student.

“It seems like a really valuable service. I don’t know why I haven’t heard about it before,” said another student.

In April GradConnection held an information evening with the Victoria Commerce Students’ Association (VicCom). Unofficially promoted by VicCom, the event had to be held off campus and GradConnection were unable to email details to students via the department. In March they also held a barbeque outside Rutherford House.

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