Two years ago while in a role where I was leading the graduate recruitment programme at my previous employer, I was lucky enough to go to Melbourne to attend the annual Australian Association of Graduate Employers conference. This was my first exposure to AAGE and I found it to be a fantastically well planned and executed conference where employer representatives attend alongside university careers staff and product suppliers. There was a large Kiwi contingent in 2010, and amongst ourselves we started to talk about how good it would be to have a similar event and association in New Zealand. Similar associations also operate in the UK, USA, Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa.
12 months ago, and with a little help from AAGE, the guys at Grad Connection NZ organised a half day Summit of representatives from around 40 NZ organizations in Auckland. At that event we debated all things graduate recruitment, networked like mad, shared war stories and agreed we would support a local graduate employer association.
As I write, the three day AAGE event is happening in Melbourne again but this time there’s a difference. Next Tuesday 20 November some of the attendees and speakers from other country’s associations will be travelling onto Auckland for the first full day NZAGE Summit. This will be attended by around 80 employer reps, university careers heads and suppliers to the industry such as Grad Connection. You can still get tickets here if you are interested.
NZAGE is an employer driven association for employers and we probably haven’t seen anything like this in New Zealand before. This is something to be proud of and I am really looking forward to attending and facilitating a workshop on developing future leaders. Much of the credit has to go to Tim Watts from Grad Connection and the committee for volunteering to set up NZAGE, and having the vision and energy to get it moving over the last 12 months. It can only grow from here and will certainly bring employers and the university sector closer together, improve and increase the opportunities for future generations of graduates as well share good practice around the country.
Incidentally, Tim has been nominated for an award at the AAGE Graduate Recruitment Industry Awards this week for Best Contribution to the Graduate Recruitment and Development Industry. That a Kiwi is nominated for an award across the ditch speaks for itself. This is well deserved. I know Tim and his business partner Rob well, and know the struggles they had to get buy in and acceptance from some employers and the university sector when they first set up Grad Connection. But they’ve gone from strength to strength over the last 3-4 years and shown their genuine value and ability to bring diverse stakeholders together. And they are just bloody good people to do business with.
Also, congrats to my old colleague Mary-Jane Richards (I taught her well!) and her team at KPMG who are the only other Kiwis nominated for an award. They are up for the Innovation in the Graduate Recruitment Industry Award which is also well deserved. Their Ace the Case initiative has resulted in a 97% acceptance rate for graduates in 2012 which is unheard of. Good luck to you both.
Next weeks New Zealand event is a major step forward for the HR industry in this country and shows just what can be achieved through a collaborative will/approach and cooperation across organisations, industries and by engaging the stakeholders. This is something to be celebrated and I hope it goes from strength to strength. Next week I will share my thoughts on the event.