Understanding planning students’ self-perceived employability in an uncertain future

Keywords: graduate employability, higher education, planning education, self-perceived employability


Planning students are entering an increasingly competitive professional labour market. To understand their selfperceived employability and identify the employability-enhancing strategies they engage in to improve their graduate employment prospects, this paper analyses survey data collected from 106 undergraduate students at a large Australian university. Three key themes are identified as important for graduate employability from the perspective of planning students: education; personal attributes and assets; and appropriate professional experience. This study finds that many respondents were critical of the extent to which they believed their university studies were positively positioned for the real world of planning and positively positioned them to succeed in the graduate employment market relative to other planning graduates. To address these limitations, respondents emphasised the importance of developing personal and professional networks with peers and engaging in skills-enhancing activities, and revealed an expectation that they may need to engage in unpaid professional work experience. However, notwithstanding these efforts to actively moderate the impact of self-perceived personal skills and experiential deficits on their employability, there was a nascent acknowledgement that despite investing significant effort into developing networks, getting professional experience, and modelling appropriate attitudes and professional traits, they may become highly employable yet still fail to secure graduate employment as a planner due to structural constraints beyond their control. 

Author Biographies

Deanna Grant-Smith, Queensland University of Technology Business School, Queensland, Australia

Deanna Grant-Smith is an Associate Professor in the QUT Business School and Deputy Director of the QUT Centre for Decent Work & Industry at the Queensland University of Technology. 

Linda Carroli, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia

Dr Linda Carroli is a Research Associate and Sessional Academic in the School of Architecture and Built Environment, Queensland University of Technology. 

Abbe Winter, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia

Abbe Winter is a research associate at the Queensland University of Technology. 

Severine Mayere, School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia

Severine Mayere is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Built Environment and Student Ombudsman at the Queensland University of Technology. 


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Original Scientific Paper - Second Part