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OCANZ examining graduates’ readiness for workplace

The Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand (OCANZ) is funding the inclusion of optometry-specific questions into an Australian Government survey to hear from graduates and employers about how well universities are preparing students for the workplace.

2020 was the first year that OCANZ – an independent external agency that assesses optometry programs in Australia and New Zealand – funded the inclusion of specialised questions into the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT)’s graduate outcomes and employer satisfaction surveys.

All graduates in Australia are asked to complete the Graduate Outcomes Survey four to six months after completing their course and the feedback helps to improve course development and outcomes for students, focussing on work readiness. There are three data collections each year in February, May and November.

According to OCANZ, feedback from optometry course graduates was positive in 2020, as was the response rate. It will continue to fund optometry-specific questions for the next several years to ensure sufficient, year-on-year data to support course development and position emerging patient needs at the centre of course design.

The 2021 survey process will commence in April/May and will, as in 2020, be administered in two parts. The first will focus on feedback from graduates, and the second on employers’ views.

Graduates will be asked questions about their study experience and the extent to which their course prepared them for the workplace.

If nominated by graduates, employers will be invited to comment on:

  • The skills and attributes needed in contemporary optometry practice;
  • How well higher education is preparing graduates for the workforce; and
  • The employment pathways graduates take after completing their studies.

“It’s important to understand that the surveys are about courses and training, not about assessing individual graduates, providers or employers,” OCANZ chair Professor Alex Gentle said.

Mr Peter Murphy, Luxottica’s director of eyecare and community, said as major employers, the company welcomed the feedback the surveys will provide.

“They can only improve the quality of education and training and consequently, raise the work readiness of optometrists as they enter the profession. This clearly benefits employers, but most importantly, it benefits our patients who will ultimately receive even better eye health care,” he said.

Ms Lyn Brodie, national CEO of Optometry Australia, reinforced the value of employer feedback.

“Assessment from employers on graduate optometrists’ readiness to practise is vital to ensure the highest standards in the provision of eye health care to the community,” she said.

The surveys are delivered by the Social Research Centre and strict privacy and confidentiality guidelines are followed. Further information about the surveys is available here.