Northern Territory accountancy students must be gleeful this week, with their capacity to tackle paid work going against the gloomy cautions from the Business Council of Australia.
The 2006 Good Universities Guide says 100% of Charles Darwin University graduates who look for work in their field find it within three months, while elsewhere in Australia the worry is that students are not ‘job ready’.
Australian Vocational Education Minister Gary Hargrave has warned that universities are fostering a culture of intellectual ‘arrogance’ amongst graduates, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants is overhauling its diploma program for university graduates.
The difference is that in the NT CDU works hand in hand with government and business to ensure that its students are job ready, and there is no shortage of paid work in their field while they are studying.
CDU’s Head of the Law and Business School, Dennis Clark FCPA says skills shortages in the NT mean that even first year accounting students have access to more demanding work than first year graduates in other states.
“While they are still undergraduates, our students are already part of audit teams, business compliance units or doing tax work for clients.
“Some are already traveling around the Territory as part of their work, or even interstate and overseas,” Mr Clark says.
Manager of CPA Australia’s NT Office, Vicki Williams says CPA Australia is committed to its partnership with CDU via its educational accreditation process.
“This helps ensure excellence in accounting education and Charles Darwin University is doing very well in meeting the stringent guidelines required,” Ms Williams says.
“The economy is so alive up here, students are able to find paid work experience in Darwin while completing their degree at CDU—this is very different from most other cities in Australia where high competition among university students for work experience means that most are only able to achieve non-paid, short term placements,” she says.
One recent CDU graduate, who walked straight into a job with a chartered accounting firm in Darwin, says he knows of three other firms in town that have spaces for graduates right now.
The other reason CDU produces graduates with practical skills is that it is a ‘dual sector’ institution.
“CDU’s advantage is that VET and university courses run in parallel so people in the workforce can start with the simplest certificate to improve their skills/job level.