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Will robots take our jobs?

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Technology advances are rapidly changing the world of work as we know it.

PwC predicts 44 per cent (5.1 million) of current Australian jobs are at high risk of being affected by computerisation and technology over the next 20 years. ‘By “high risk”’ the PwC report clarifies ‘we mean there’s a greater than 70 per cent chance the job could be automated by technology’.

La Trobe Futurist Dr Fiona McKenzie discusses the challenges and opportunities of digital disruption in the future workforce, and how we can adapt.

What jobs will become automated?

The 2015 PwC report says jobs most likely to be affected are those where computer learning systems or robotics are able to perform simple and routine tasks faster and more accurately than humans. ‘These typically include unskilled or low-skilled activities in offices, factories and shops,’ it states.

Dr McKenzie says we’re already seeing the seeds of automation in our neighbouring countries. ‘There’s change happening in the manufacturing space with automated robots and co-bots (collaborative robots), which are potentially going to totally change the garment industry and affect employment for millions and millions of people in Asia.’

‘What’s interesting,’ Dr McKenzie further points out, ‘is that people in mid-level jobs are now starting to feel the pinch too.

‘People thought skilled-labour would be safe from automation but in actual fact there are developments where relatively sophisticated tasks can now be automated too.’

Dr McKenzie says ‘I’m hesitant to say whole sectors’ will be automated or safe from automation. Rather, ‘there will be chunks of every sector that will change.’

Roles that require creative thinking, emotional intelligence, intuition and ‘all those things that humans have the advantage on’ will be safe in the near future. As will jobs that require human, face-to-face interactions, such as those in the healthcare sector.

What opportunities can digital disruption offer?

‘We tend to fear that what we don’t know, but automation creates a whole opportunity for something else to be augmented,’ explains Dr McKenzie.

For example, a nurse whose job is to deliver food to patients may find there’s an automated delivery cart that can soon do just that. ‘This can create the opportunity for the nurse to spend more time sitting with the patient, measuring blood pressure and providing better care,’ Dr McKenzie says, ‘and in fact Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital introduced automated guided vehicles to move linen and food back in 2012’.

The advent of the internet and the ability to instantly connect with others across the globe has also enabled the rise of ‘digital nomads’ and freelancers to work from anywhere in the world for anyone in the world.

CSIRO’s recent report into ‘Tomorrow’s digitally enabled workforce’ ‘identifies plausible [future] scenarios via which the many – possibly most – Australian workers become portfolio workers and freelancers’.

Dr McKenzie says, ‘There’s a huge cohort that will be highly skilled, in demand and able to shape their future – and they’ll flourish in this environment.

‘There’ll be lots of opportunities in terms of entrepreneurialism, portfolio work, creating your own identity, being able to work around the world and doing work you’re interested in rather than being tied to one job.’

The rise of portfolio work and the gig economy could mean people can choose flexible work like nights, weekends and part-time, which could be particularly beneficial to parents.

It could also open up more doors for rural dwellers to work remotely for urban and international companies.

The dark side of the precariat workforce

The flipside of the rise of the precariat workforce – that is a working class characterised by ‘precarious work’ – could be that lack of job security increases stress and anxiety for some.

‘The precariat, that concept of “the new vulnerable” in the workplace is important to pay attention to because it is potentially a large cohort of people, says Dr McKenzie.

‘People may feel unsafe, they may feel insecure and like the economy is not ticking along. That plays out in all sorts of ways in politics and society and mental health.’

Dr McKenzie also wonders: ‘If we’re all working in a gig economy, what happens if we don’t have employment contracts and super?’ There’s talk of basic universal income, but we’re yet to know how that might play out.

Similarly, for an aging workforce expected to work into their 70s, Dr McKenzie says we might need to challenge assumptions and paradigms around retirement. People in this age-group might work on a semi-retired basis, they could work as business mentors, or perhaps unpaid roles like childcare and volunteering that this cohort regularly partake in will become financially rewarded roles.

The blurring of work boundaries that means we can potentially work remotely for overseas organisations, could also mean a lot of home-grown jobs are taken offshore.

In 2012, every third adult in OECD countries had a tertiary degree reports CSIRO. ‘That’s a massive cohort of young people coming through with higher education degrees worldwide, and what does that mean if work is more mobile?’ asks Dr McKenzie. Answer: competition for work increases.

How can we prepare for the future workplace?

To make the Australian economy and Australian workers competitive in the future, Dr McKenzie says we need to look at ‘how we can be the best in the world at the different industries we have and make sure we are winning jobs as well.’

Ultimately, Dr McKenzie says it’s less about the pace of digital disruption, and more about how quickly we respond to it. Dr McKenzie asks whether governments and others ‘will choose to be leaders on this or wait to react.’

‘The important point is that it’s not small. If you think about the Great Depression, unemployment was only around 25 per cent and here we’re talking about 44 per cent of jobs at risk.

‘We’re at six per cent unemployment and it doesn’t take a big shift in unemployment for people to really feel the impact. I hope we’ll all be proactive on this one.’

Find out more about how the digital disruption will affect the future of work at our upcoming La Trobe Business School Alumni Event with Dr McKenzie.

 

LBS Alumni Event: The changing nature of work

We are living in a time where businesses are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This often requires entire business process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

Join us as leading expert in the changing nature of work Dr Fiona McKenzie, discusses how business leaders can prepare for the future, and the skills required to take advantage of new opportunities.

About the speaker

Dr Fiona McKenzie, Co-Founder and Director of Strategy, Australian Futures Project: Dr Fiona McKenzie is a human geographer with a PhD on innovation and expertise in both public policy and academic research. At the Australian Futures Project, Fiona has led the design and implementation of a range of unique programs, including social innovation labs.

Panel Event

Date: Wednesday 25 October 2017

Time: 5:45pm – Arrival, 6:00pm – Presentation, followed by Q&As, 7:30pm – 8:30pm Networking, canapes and drinks

Venue: La Trobe University City Campus, Level 20, 360 Collins Street, Melbourne

Cost: Free

Register: Please register via the corresponding event page. Please RSVP by Friday 20 October.

“Where will the tax jobs be in 2020?”

Mark Morris La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice
By Mark Morris

It’s a vexing question for those planning a career in tax.

In my 30 plus years in the profession I have never seen it face so many challenges simultaneously.

The most obvious change is of course digital disruption.

In part this is because the automatic exchange of data is about to balloon as information is transferred in real time as computers talk to each other in a common language using standard business reporting.

But it is also because of the investment being made around the world by Governments and business to effectively leverage their use of big data to make more informed decisions. This is even extending to the development of cognitive computing systems such as IBM’s ‘Watson’ system which can be applied to analyse unstructured data to provide answers to specific questions.

As a corollary much of the traditional tax compliance and process work will gradually diminish as data is collected, exchanged and analysed differently.

However, there are an array of other impending changes including, amongst others, a more informed and savvy public; greater cross border transactions as part of a more integrated world economy; increased offshoring especially of compliance work; more complex tax laws to prop up increasingly competitive tax regimes; a growing reliance on consumption taxes worldwide to provide a more stable revenue base; and an evolving international digital economy where labour, finance, and knowhow are mobile to an unprecedented degree.

Given this mix no-one can predict with absolute certainty where the tax jobs are going to be in 2020.

Nonetheless I believe there are some clear pointers as to how you can best plan a career in tax.

Firstly, the importance of being able to analyse big data in a meaningful way is becoming rapidly crucial to both revenue authorities and professional firms of all sizes.

From the ATO’s perspective it is their growth area as witnessed by the recent creation of their Smarterdata business unit which is not only focussed on analysing data but challenging paradigms as to how the ATO conducts its operations.

Increased globalisation has also heightened the need for businesses of all sizes to be transfer pricing compliant and develop defensible positions based on finding the most comparable data.

Accordingly, tax professionals wishing to augment their tax technical skills by developing business analytics expertise could well consider enrolling in a course such as the Master of Business Analytics and Graduate Diploma in Business Analytics run by La Trobe University’s Business School as the combination of such skills will be in high demand in coming years.

Secondly, if compliance work goes down rest assured the taxation laws will not become any easier.

Whilst many talk about deregulation the tax rules have only become more complex especially for governments worldwide struggling to plug a revenue shortfall.

One only has to witness the complexity of our general anti-avoidance provisions to realise how inordinately complex our tax system has become particularly the recent amendments which will supposedly crack down on international profit shifting.

Going forward what clients will require of their advisers is the ability to work with them in disseminating such complexity and providing viable commercial solutions.

Accordingly, the way in which tax is taught at both an undergraduate and postgraduate level must radically change so that students not only absorb the complexity of the tax law but develop the interpersonal skills to service clients and build referral networks in a more global economy.

This is one of the key reasons why blended learning is being introduced by the Business School as it is encouraging students to not only develop better analytical capacities but also to work in teams to collaboratively resolve issues just like they will be required to do in the workplace.

Finally, whilst the future is daunting in some respects it is critical to remember that accountants repeatedly top the list of most trusted adviser to clients. If you are overwhelmed with change so are your clients and if you need to adapt to changing circumstances so will many of them.

Keeping your clients close will be more important than ever before as will the need to provide timely, accurate and value added services and the willingness to be adaptive and agile.

Mark Morris is a Professor of Practice in Taxation at La Trobe University’s Business School where he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate taxation and actively contributes to broader industry engagement initiatives between the Business School and the tax profession and other key stakeholders.

Mark also Co-Chaired the ATO’s ‘Future of the Tax Profession 2016’ working group with Colin which comprises senior representatives from the ATO, professional bodies, software developers and practitioners concerning the implementation of the ATO’s standard business reporting initiative.

He has over 30 years experience in senior tax roles in chartered accounting, industry and professional bodies including his former long-term role as Senior Tax Counsel with CPA Australia.

 

Vietnam Hospitality tour: A student’s perspective

Study tour group

By Natalie Carri

Deaf Cafe “Reaching Out”

I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Paul Strickland for providing me with the opportunity to participate in the 2017 Vietnam study tour and campaigning for me to be one of the Recipients of the New Colombo Mobility grant. I would like to also acknowledge Monica Hodgkinson and the Equality and Diversity Centre for providing me with Celeste & Jasmine who were my interpreters for the entire duration of the tour and guided me throughout. I owe a deep sense of gratitude to Paul for campaigning for me to be fully supported by the qualified AUSLAN interpreters. I was fortunate to have shared this unforgettable experience with a great group of students. I am proud to have been the first deaf La Trobe Uni Student who went on this Study Tour and thank you for believing in me to help me achieve this once in a lifetime opportunity which truly was a morale booster for me.

I’ve always been challenged throughout my entire schooling life, but it’s always humbling to know that La Trobe University prides itself on supporting students with disabilities to help overcome the some of the barriers they are faced with. I have consistently been dedicated to bettering myself throughout my schooling and being a part of this experience has helped promote self growth and has pushed me both academically and socially.When I found out about the Vietnam study tour, I was interested from the very first moment as I knew it was going to be a valuable learning experience for me. I am immensely grateful that I was accompanied to Vietnam with such experienced staff members and if I wasn’t given this opportunity by the University, I don’t think I would’ve ever ventured to Vietnam on my own. This study tour gave me the opportunity to explore Vietnam and its beautiful surroundings with such a welcoming group of students with whom I have developed close friendships with. Sharing this experience helped connect us through those testing moments where we all felt home sick, frustrated with the humidity/heat or longing for a home cooked meal. This study tour offered the chance to be exposed to the hustle and bustle of city congestion, sample signature Vietnamese delicacies, enjoy popular street food, visit War battlefields that were used during the Vietnam War, participate in authentic cooking classes and participate in guided tours of historical temples and iconic landmarks throughout the beautiful towns of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and UNESCO World Heritage Ha Long Bay. This was a valuable learning experience and by being immersed in the culture gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of Vietnam. Everywhere we visited we were always greeted with a warm, welcoming friendly smile from the locals and our three tour guides were always keen to share many informative stories with us.

Thanks to ‘Reaching out’, I got to meet some amazing deaf Vietnamese locals. This was by far one of the most rewarding encounters. I was fortunate enough to visit a Deaf Cafe known as the ‘Reaching Out Teahouse’ which is run & managed by hearing & speech impaired people. The Teahouse is also an art & craft shop which practises in accordance to The Fair Trade principles & helps support people with disabilities and integrate them into the community. Although I found this to be a wonderful cultural experience, it proved challenging not to be able to communicate because AUSLAN differs greatly to the Vietnamese sign language. However, with patience and perseverance, we were able to overcome this by communicating with each other through the use of gestures and mime. I was inspired by the set up and felt that we could learn from The Reaching Out Cafe, and apply some of its principles to the already existing Trade Block Cafe located in St Kilda, VCD (Victorian College for the Deaf) which is run by deaf VCAL students.

I have learnt a lot about myself from this trip as it has allowed me to open my mind and embrace opportunities that require me to take more risks. I have gained so much knowledge through this experience and I cannot emphasise enough the importance of not allowing my disability hinder such an opportunity. Having Celeste and Jasmine, the two amazing interpreters interpret for me during this trip, ensured that I didn’t miss out on any details or information and I was privileged to have been given this wonderful support and funding.

This study tour will stay with me for years to come and has opened doors to new possibilities by being immersed in a culture so diverse to mine. The two weeks that I spent on the study tour helped me acquire greater knowledge of Vietnam’s rich history and culture and I felt that my independence and confidence grew and strengthened during this trip. Receiving this has definitely motivated me and I look forward to giving back to the community beyond my studies. I would highly recommend this enriching experience to all students at the University and in particularly encourage deaf students to broaden their knowledge to embrace a new culture and diverse experiences if given the chance.

 

Game on: life as an intern with the Melbourne Rebels

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a professional sports game?

La Trobe student John Tran did, and this curiosity led him to an internship with the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Club.

A dream come true

John Tran is in his final year of a Bachelor of Business (Sports Management). As part of this course, students are required to find and complete an internship at a sports club.

When his sports practicum coordinator posted an internship with the Melbourne Rebels on the student noticeboard earlier this year, John, a lifelong sports fan, jumped at the opportunity.

‘I watched a lot of sport as a kid and I always wondered what went on behind the scenes,’ he says.

‘Obviously a lot of people are just focusing on the game, but I’ve learned that there are a lot of things that need to happen for the event to run properly.

‘It’s pretty hectic behind the scenes with everything that needs to be set up and packed down. Among other things, we have to make sure the media are sorted, and that the sponsors’ expectations are being met.

‘As a business, we need to make sure that the sponsors are satisfied with the signage that goes around the stadium and so on.’

While it’s an exciting position for a young sports fan, it’s also a demanding one. Luckily, John was well prepared by his sports practicum coordinator.

‘Before the internship started, we had classes about what to expect, what to do, and how to do it, so that helped a lot. I was also able to put into place a lot of the theory that we learned in sponsorship and events management, two earlier subjects for this course.’

A typical day at the club

In addition to his studies and part-time job, John spends up to three days a week at the club. On a weekday, he’ll be there from 10 am to 5 pm, preparing for game day.

‘We do operational activities, so things like contacting sponsors and making sure they have everything they need,’ he says.

‘We’ve also got to make signs for the locker rooms, so that players know where to go, and signs so officials know where to go, and where to sit, and so on.

‘Then there’s fan activations. For example, there is a Land Rover one where fans come and throw a ball at a target, and we’ve got to make sure that it’s set up in a place where the ball won’t go on the street and is easily collectible. So, I have to use what I’ve learned about OH&S for that!’

This weekday preparation all helps relieve some of the pressure on game days, which are full on. While kick-off is usually in the late evening, John gets to be there behind the scenes much earlier.

‘On game days we’re there from 11 am setting up. We set up, we pack up, we supervise kid’s activities… Timing is critical, so we have our running sheet that says what we need to do and when, and we’re constantly checking things off as we go. It’s a full on, exciting day, and we don’t really get to stop!’

Graduation and beyond

With just one subject to go next semester, the end of John’s degree is well within sight. He hopes his internship with the Melbourne Rebels will be a stepping stone to a graduate position.

‘I think that I will have a lot of connections at the end of this, and I’ve got a lot of experience learning from a professional sports club,’ he says.

John ultimately hopes to use his newfound connections and experience to obtain a job at the end of this year in an events role with a professional club.

‘But just getting the connections and having the experience is the main thing, and this internship has definitely helped me to achieve that.’

Looking to bolster your real-world experience with an internship? Look no further.

Tourism and Hospitality International Study Program – THS3ISP – Study Tour to Vietnam

Students from Hanu, Bundoora and Bendigo campuses

by Paul Strickland

The recipients of the New Colombo Mobility Grant meeting with General Manager of Vinh Hung Resorts, Mr Han. L-R: Paul Strickland, Scott Dickson, Taila Howden, Mr Han, Loren Mosetter, Simon Jacobs, Monica Hodgkinson, Sarah Cook

Paul Strickland and Monica Hodgkinson led a delegation of twenty-one tourism, hospitality and event management students and staff from Bundoora and Bendigo campuses to Vietnam for a two-week study tour in June/July 2017. This annual program included two Auslan translators to accompany Natalie Carrie, a profoundly deaf student that was a first for La Trobe. Support and funding was obtained from Vicdeaf, La Trobe University Equity and Diversity (thank you Sally Freeman) and La Trobe Business School. Additionally, five students were fully funded by New Colombo Mobility grants of $3000.00 each and $1500 for staff that aims to bridge the gap in trade between Australia and South-East Asia.

The objective of the study tour was to examine and observe the cultural, social and environment aspects as a tourist, the impacts of government policy and the legacy of war. Students were strongly encouraged to try all pre-ordered food, partake in cooking classes, meet high level management and fully immerse themselves in the culture. Vietnam has a very ‘dark’ history due to its strategic location between China and western societies therefore is an ideal case study for political, cultural and touristic examination.

The assessment tasks include a case study relating to war and ethics, a daily reflective journal, a formal report evaluating the differences between the hotel and restaurant standards of Australia and Vietnam and a group presentation based on photo journal on a given topic. The study tour includes all flights, accommodation, three meals daily, activities, entrance fees, bottled water, buses, guides, drivers, footmen, and tips for approximately $2800.00.

The study tour started in Melbourne and continued to Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay and Hanoi. The tour visited Hanu (Hanoi University) and where we met with eleven local students studying at La Trobe University who live on campus. Conversations focused on the differences between Bundoora, Bendigo and Hanu campus life. We also had site visits at local resorts, restaurants and a private ceremony for the fallen Vietnamese and Australian soldiers on the original battlefield.

The evaluation forms are extremely positive and students have indicated a willingness to be ambassadors for La Trobe and their courses at Open Days, in classrooms and other promotional opportunities. Although it is a very full itinerary and extremely tiring towards the end, feedback included ‘it has helped me with my tourism and hospitality related studies’ and ‘so many great sites/places visited and amazing food in all restaurants’ and finally, ‘10/10’.

It was recently announced that this tourism and hospitality international study program has secured a further ten New Colombo Mobility grants of $3000.00 each and $3000.00 for teaching staff totally $33,000 to travel to Vietnam in 2018. We have added Van Lang University on the itinerary for a site tour and presentation in their department of tourism plus a NGO to see the impact of charity work. Having government funded support through student grants makes it possible for low-socio economic and high performing academic students have an opportunity to participate which we wholeheartedly welcome.

LBS Events Management Student completes placement at Disney: “I really felt that Disney helped me to grow my confidence and strengthen my communication skills.”

By Jessica Guirdanella

After graduating high school, I realised my love for helping people and making them smile. Volunteering was the way I found to incorporate this into my everyday life. I volunteer for multiple corporations, including several non-profit ones that have helped my gain experience within my field of study, Business Events Management/ Marketing (La Trobe University). Through this, I learnt I was a practical hands-on learner and could grow my skills when I was working in and outside my field assisting in new projects. I would always be open minded in trying new tasks.

Interning at Disney

In October of 2015, I applied for a Cultural Exchange Program sponsored by the Walt Disney Company. After an interview and a long wait, I received the wonderful news that I had been chosen to be a Cast Member at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Participating in the Internship meant that I would delay finishing my current university course by a year, although to work for Disney was always a dream.

On the program, I was given the role as a Life Guard at a Disney Resort. This meant that people’s safety was my responsibility every day. Professionally, I found myself in many interesting situations. However, this never stopped me to create Magic for all the guests. Making people smile is something I live by and at Disney I was able to go above and beyond in my role to create that happiness. Whether it was getting a child balloons for their birthday or for conquering the ‘scary’ slide, surprising families with the unexpected and having a positive conversation with someone was a great aspect of the work.

Being a Cast Member for one of the largest and most well-known companies worldwide taught me many things. I learnt the ins-and-outs of what it takes to run such a large company. I was surrounded by amazing fellow Cast Members, coordinators and a leadership team that was always assisting their cast members so they could excel in their role. I was extremely grateful when I learnt that I was getting trained in one of my dream roles: Resort Activities. This allowed me to put my skills in working with children to use. I would get to run activities and make sure all kids where smiling and happy!

Half way though my program it was announced that I was receiving a Quarterly award. This award is awarded to Cast Members who perform their role at exceptional standards. I really felt that Disney helped me to grow my confidence and strengthen my communication skills.

What I Learned

One of the things I’ve learnt in my time with the Disney Company is that you’ll always get the work you put in back in another rewarding way. The experience also taught me how important it is to make people smile. I made it my goal to go into work every day with a positive attitude, and got nothing but positive in return. Of course, there were situations where my day was turned upside down, but I always used these situations as something I could learn from.

While overseas, I was sent the news that I had been nominated for a Victorian Young Achievers Award within the leadership category. I was recognised for my work in the community. It was extremely special and has inspired me to continue doing what I’m doing.

If I could give anyone advice, I would tell them to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what path to take in life, create your own. If things get difficult, stay positive, find a solution and take it as a learning experience, help others and never forget to Smile.

If you’re considering volunteering, whether it’s to help you gain experience in your field of study or wanting to play a part in making a difference in your community, DO IT! Volunteering is a great way to network and get to know people who are like mined, where you’re assisting with an operation as well as building your own skills.

Gaining work experience is something we encourage our students to complete during their studies. We offer several possibilities for students to gain experience as part of their degree.

All LBS School’s Human Resources Degrees now AHRI accredited!

La Trobe Business School AHRI accreditation

Recently, La Trobe Business School received notification that the Master of Management Online (Human Resource Management), has officially been accredited from 2018 until 2020 by the Australian Human Resources Institute.

What does it mean to be a good HR manager?

According to AHRI, working in HR requires more than just good people skills. When evaluating a university’s course, AHRI’s National Accreditation Committee (NAC) focusses on seven key AHRI competencies for tertiary HR management courses. These are set out in their ‘HR Model of Excellence’. The competencies are based on current trends in the industry and university landscape and summarize the key aspects that drive a good HR manager. Being a good HR manager means having the following capabilities:

  1. Being business driven and having the ability to align people management with business objectives and the external environment,
  2. Setting the HR vision for the organisation and driving to success,
  3. Identifying and responding to stakeholder demands, as well as managing relationships,
  4. Building organisational capability through high performing people,
  5. Exercising influence and providing HR advice to achieve objectives,
  6. Applying expert HR knowledge to deliver value to the business,
  7. Facilitating change in response to internal and external operating environments.

AHRI accreditation is granted to eligible tertiary institutions by the organisation’s NAC, after an intensive reviewing process based on this HR Model of Excellence. Through these application procedures, the AHRI and the NAC strive to maintain a high standard for HR courses nationally and internationally.

The Donald Whitehead Building has officially been opened!

Donald Whitehead building

Donald Whitehead building

On 30 August 2017, The Donald Whitehead Building was officially opened. As a part of the Melbourne Campus masterplan, the building has undergone a full refurbishment and now features brand-new cutting edge teaching and learning facilities.

The refurbishment aimed to create a lively connected space with upgraded staff accommodation, teaching, research and specialist lab spaces, including the Finance Trading Room, the LBS Data Analytics and Cognition Lab, the lab for the Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation (RECCSI) and the LBS Judgement and Decision Making (JDM) Lab.

The refurbishments support the University’s Future Ready objectives to instil future-ready graduates with a responsible sense of leadership.

After a Welcome to Country by Dr Julie Andrews, the building was opened by the Head of La Trobe Business School, Professor Paul Mather, as well as La Trobe University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Kerri-Lee Krause and the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Antony McGrew. Both stakeholders and staff members were able to tour the building and see the new facilities on the day.

A low ATAR doesn’t mean missing out on your dream course

If you’re reaching for the stars when it comes to finding your dream course, don’t let anything get in the way – not even an ATAR that’s lower than you’d hoped for. There are lots of options available to help get you into the course you want – you might just have to take a different road.

Each December, VCE students across the state wait anxiously to find out if all their hard work throughout high school has paid off. It doesn’t matter whether you log in online, get a text message or wait for snail mail, waiting for your ATAR results must rank as one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in a teen’s life.

And no wonder. Your ATAR is a culmination of incredibly hard work, determination and persistence. Some people are rewarded with a great result that propels them directly into their dream course at university. But for every person that gets into their desired course, there is another that has to step back, and reassess their planned career path.

Luke Scicluna works in the student recruitment team at La Trobe University, and while he recognises the benefits of getting a great ATAR score, he doesn’t see it as the be-all and end-all.

‘There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around the ATAR. I think there is merit to it when you’ve been at school for 13 years of your life, and you want to have a good send-off, but there are so many variables around ATAR. It’s totally understandable to not achieve the number you were expecting.’

While it can be incredibly deflating to miss out on the course you had set your hopes on, it’s important to have a plan B in place, well before you get your results.

What’s your plan B?

‘If you can’t get in the first instance there are other courses you can enrol in or subjects you can take which may lead you down the road toward your dream course,’ says Luke.

‘There are plenty of examples of students who might not have been able to enrol directly in the degree they were gunning for originally, but eventually find their way in.’

Changing preferences

After the VCE results and ATARs are released, you’ll have the opportunity to review your course preferences. Be sure to consider your folio presentations, feedback from interviews and any auditions, as well as your ATAR results when making changes.

You can change your preferences as many times as you like, up until the closing date. Find out all the important dates for 2017 and 2018 from the VTAC website.

What should you do if your ATAR is just a few points off your dream course? Luke suggests keeping the course as your number one preference. But if your ATAR is way off the mark, it’s time to shuffle those preferences and choose a different pathway course on your VTAC preference form instead.

It’s critical to do your research well before you submit your preferences. First of all, you need to make sure you meet all the prerequisites. Secondly, you need to check which course pathways offer the best chance to get you into the course you ultimately want.

If you need advice, talk to the experts. Luke refers to VTAC as the ‘source of truth’, and says it’s the place to get the most up-to-date information about all courses and requirements. If you need more, go to the university directly – La Trobe offers a range of different ways to connect and ask questions.

So don’t be shy. Make sure the next step is the right one for you and get an expert second opinion.

Pathway options

Pathways are like stepping-stones into your preferred course, and there’s lots of different options. The most common pathway is via a related course at your preferred university.

For example, if you missed out on a spot in physiotherapy, you can study a related course. If your marks are good – and there is a place available – you can apply to transfer across to physiotherapy in your second year of study. There are no guarantees, but these options mean the door isn’t completely closed if you don’t get in the first time.

Another popular pathway is to enrol at an alternative campus, then transfer. You’ll find that some of La Trobe’s regional campuses have equivalent courses with slightly lowered ATAR requirements.

That’s not a reflection of the quality of the course, explains Luke. ‘It just comes down to competitiveness and how many people want to get in.’ Transfers depend on your academic performance and places available in your desired course.

Even if you achieved an ATAR  that’s too low to enrol in an undergraduate degree, you have options. VET or TAFE pathways allow you to start your study in an officially recognised diploma, obtain the credit you need, and then transfer across to the course of your choice. TAFE and VET pathways also apply if you studied VCAL instead of VCE, or you don’t satisfy a prerequisite for a particular course.

‘If you achieve a good enough mark in that diploma, you may have credit officially recognised by the time you’re ready to study at La Trobe,’ explains Luke.

With so many pathway options, making your next move after receiving your ATAR can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to seek out as much advice as you can. While career teachers are a great resource within a school, Luke suggests future students should consider getting in touch with the university admissions team.

‘If you’re really interested in studying at La Trobe, organise a one-on-one consultation, because we have that up-to-date advice about which pathway would be best for the student.’

Book a one-on-one consultation to find out how you can get into your dream course.

This article was orginally published on NEST.

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