Recent results in the Australian Graduate Survey found that more PhD graduates were working in industry (43%) than in higher education (41%) and just under two-thirds reported they were working full time. The iPREP program was established to help PhD graduates improve their chances of employability through the development of new skills in project management, teamwork, interdisciplinary problem solving, business awareness and leadership.

The PhD candidates participate in a two-day induction program focused on business skills, prior to commencing a six-week team project under the supervision of an industry mentor. The teams share the outcomes of their project with industry partners at the conclusion of the program through a formal presentation, written report and other deliverables specific to the project.

Andrew Walsh, a PhD candidate from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, said, “Before iPREP I pigeon-holed myself within my own discipline. I didn’t get to see the skills I had obtained through being a research student. iPREP made me aware of those skills and how they are applicable to the real world and how industry actually values that".

Round 2, 2018 iPREP PhD candidates

Industry partners range from start-ups and small to medium enterprises through to large corporations and government departments. The industry partners benefit from:

  • Value for money consultancy from an interdisciplinary team of experienced researchers;

  • Innovative, creative and credible solutions to business problems;

  • Increased engagement with all five universities to optimise knowledge translation from research outcomes;

  • Potential to recruit outstanding PhD graduates.

Wayne Pluske, an iPREP Project Industry Mentor from Laconik, said, “The best thing that we get out of iPREP is we get to bring together a diverse group of expertise in terms of the PhD students. We are trying to find innovative solutions to agriculture not using traditional agricultural thinking. So if we can bring astrophysicists and digital analytics people in to take a new approach to tackling an age-old problem, we think that’s fantastic. The team that we got together were absolutely sensational and have really helped us to get us on the way".

iPREP applicants must be enrolled as a PhD candidate at a university in Western Australia and either:

  • have submitted their thesis for examination prior to the program commencement but not have their degree conferred before the end date of the round; OR

  • be a domestic-enrolled PhD candidate at pre-submission stage with Confirmation of Candidature and must have consumed at least 2 years of a full-time PhD or the part time equivalent.

Applications for the next round of iPREP open on 7 January 2019, for a six-week program beginning in early March. For more information visit the iPREP website or email Narelle Jones, iPREP coordinator: iprepwa@ecu.edu.au

Original article published on the ECU Intranet: http://intranet.ecu.edu.au/research/news/latest-news/for-research-students/2018/12/iprep-industry-collaboration-programs-helps-phd-candidates-to-become-employment-ready