Research shows what employers want in sport and rec grads

Research shows what employers want in sport management grads

A Victoria University PhD student has conducted a nation-wide survey to identify what employers look for when hiring sport and recreation management graduates.

In a broad profession that spans roles in business, administration, community development, coaching, and science, careers for sport and recreation managers vary widely.

And unlike other professions, no industry accreditation or employability standards currently exist.

PhD research sheds light on industry needs

Victoria University PhD candidate and career development and employability coordinator Mary Grant conducted an online survey of local governments, sport clubs, community organisations and other employers across Australia to determine how they assessed fledgling employees.

She found specific ‘employability cues’ were rated highly, such as having worked with people from diverse backgrounds, or in projects requiring goal-setting or preparing and following schedules.  

The research also included an audit of the selection criteria listed in hundreds of sport and recreation management job ads across the country.

Career development embedded into VU's sport courses

Researcher Mary Grant said that VU, unlike most universities, embedded stand-alone academic units in career development into its Bachelor of Sport Management, Sport Business and Sport Science degrees through its Career Development and Employability (CDE) program, and had done so for 40 years.

“These units have evolved from basic fieldwork into a holistic, integrated program grounded in theoretical career development framework and literature,” she said.

The CDE program, which includes industry networking events, has been nationally recognised by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council as a leader in the Australian university sector for outstanding contributions to student learning.

In 2017, just over 200 VU students completed placements with more than 150 industry and community-program partners, including the Western Bulldogs and Western Jets AFL clubs, and Melbourne Victory football (soccer) club.

Ms Grant said the results of her research are expected to further enhance the curriculum of VU’s sport and recreation courses, as well as sport and recreation management courses elsewhere.

RecWest Centre Director Kristen Pocock said CDE benefited both students and organisations.

“The students help plan, promote and deliver programs we otherwise wouldn’t be able to run,” she said. “Then we often retain students as employees due to the quality of programs and services they deliver during their placement.”

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