The La Trobe Law School has this semester embarked on an innovative attempt to weave student employability principles through the ‘Employment and Labour Relations’ law subject in a way which strengthens student engagement with the coursework.
Industry connections and career pathways
To begin, the subject coordinator drew on their industry connections and employer interest in La Trobe University Law students to create a consistent set of short networking sessions with employers throughout the lecture series. Each employer was selected to advertise a different area of industrial relations that the students could pursue after graduation, making the immediate subject matter more alive to their interests.
Thus far employer participants have included Ernst & Young (Angie Zhang), Victorian Trades Hall Council (Paul Sutton) and court reporter Peter Gregory, with scheduled future participants to include law firms and HR consultants. There will also be profile presentations on organisations like Transgender Victoria to highlight volunteering options.
Moreover, additional presentations from bodies like the Counselling Services team at La Trobe University (by manager Leah du Plooy) to discuss well-being issues in the law provide well-rounded information about the skills that will benefit students once in the workforce.
Included below is a picture of guest Angie Zhang, a senior consultant and employment taxes specialist from Ernst & Young, enjoying her first time behind a lecture podium.
‘Job of the Week’ commitment
The theme of employability initiatives feeding academic engagement continues with the ‘Job of the Week’ initiative.
At the start of the subject Rob Vague from the La Trobe University Careers & Employability team completed a presentation on the numerous employability resources available to La Trobe students.
The subject co-ordinator then asked students to commit to applying for at least one position every week from the ‘Job of the Week’ profiles advertised in the lecture. The jobs are tailored to employment law opportunities (to, once again, increase student engagement with the subject they are studying) but also include broader options.
The payoff has been wonderful, with students providing feedback about the start of numerous recruitment processes as part of roles advertised through the subject.
Finally, the seminars use a capability-based learning framework to help the students internalise knowledge through activities and as a means of teaching them the broader skills that they will need as professionals. This is consistent with the sorts of requests that employers make of further education. In this way, the students are given readings to complete beforehand but are only told of the broad topics of each seminar. They then enter the seminars with the expectation that they will use the knowledge that they have gained from their readings but unaware of exactly what may be required of them (like in real working life!). They are then exposed to a variety of duties common to employment law specialists across the industrial relations arena, including the provision of legal advice, policy debates, conciliations, advocacy sessions, handing down judgments and role plays.
Nadia Stojanova is the 2017 subject co-ordinator and lecturer for the ‘Employment and Labour Relations’ law subject.
Andrew Vincent is the seminar leader in Melbourne. Craig Rossi is the seminar leader in Bendigo.
Graduate Research Supervision
The ‘Employment and Labour Relations Law’ undergraduate elective adds to the labour law expertise of Jill Murry and Anthony O’Donnell at the La Trobe Law School, who welcome enquiries about graduate supervision. Their contact details are available on the La Trobe University website.