University & Career Pathways

March 24, 2016

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I recently saw a job advertisement online for a ‘Panda Nanny’. Possibly the world’s best job. As a professional panda hugger you get to spend your days with baby pandas and one of the main responsibilities of your job is to show ‘constant love’ to these adorable fluffy little creatures. To apply for this position you need to be at least 22 years old and have a ‘basic knowledge of pandas’. Apparently panda nannies earn around $32,000 a year and work in the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre.

My career counsellor at school never mentioned anything about becoming a Panda Nanny as far as I can recall (I think I would have remembered it!). Mostly we were given some basic multiple choice tests and asked a bit about the subjects we most liked, those we didn’t. Then our career would materialise as if by magic; Teacher, Doctor, Scientist, Marine Biologist, Police Officer, Social Worker, Journalist. Most of them involved going from school straight into university.  

If you wanted to be a Doctor you had to do really well in your exams. That was the way you could get into University. If you didn’t then the options were presented as being pretty limited. You could perhaps transfer from another university degree if you were incredibly successful but in most cases we were told you had to go with your second preference.  

Today pathways into university are as diverse as there are strange and wonderful jobs and to choose from in the world. The typical school – university – job is not the fait accompli any more.

More and more students are completing some vocational studies during their final year of school that can provide a heard start towards a certain career they have picked out or a pathway to further tertiary studies.

The Australian training system has been designed to fit together and create pathways within and across systems. The government funds various initiatives that enable you to pick and choose from a lot of options and the Australian Qualification Framework is designed to fit together to create a pathway within and across systems. 

Say you are interested in becoming a Social Worker and are really keen to understand the legal system and contribute to legal policy in the future. Many universities have what are called articulation agreements with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) which means studying a relevant Diploma qualification or qualifications can provide you with, in most cases, up to a year of a Bachelor Degree. In this case a Diploma of Community Services Work or Diploma of Legal Services might be something you could complete while you took some time to gain some work experience with an organisation you might want to work for in the future.

The national qualification register is easy to search www.training.gov.au and there are many reputable organisations that offer advice – such as Good Universities Guide

We have a number of official articulation agreements with universities here. However most universities will offer credit into their degrees on a case by case basis.

Perhaps an apprenticeship or traineeship is more your thing. This type of training is a way to become qualified in a trade or particular job while you are working. We currently have a number of employees who are on traineeships studying the Certificate IV Business qualifications and are planning to complete the Diploma of Leadership and Management next year. Once they finish the aim is to study a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) and they will gain credit and time off their degree from having completed their vocational studies.

A gap year, or years is no longer purely associated with a Contiki tour across Europe but is often combined with some work experience or internship or other forms of training. This can be a great way to ‘test the waters’ in different types of careers – even panda hugging if you happen to be lucky enough.