But the landscape has shifted significantly, even in the last five years. Graduates from any institution, or modality of study, are entering an entirely different world to their predecessors.
The environment is characterised by economic instability, increased competition, shifting consumer preferences and rapid technological change. The natural health and wellness sectors are impacted by this as much as any other industry. But equally and oppositely, this gives rise to tremendous opportunity.
Gone are the days when graduates had a pre-determined number of career options available to them. Today I see graduates from all walks of life use their skills and knowledge to dream up their own jobs, which in turn allows them to share their love of natural health and wellness in entirely new ways.
Even those in clinical practice are becoming more tech- and commerce-savvy and finding ways to attract new client bases within a mixed modality environment.
Of the six Bachelor of Health Science degrees offered by Endeavour, my institution, is a three-year nutritional medicine degree. This has experienced expediential growth particularly in the last couple of years. There is no doubt awareness of wellness through nutrition has been fuelled by popular reality-TV shows and documentaries.
As more consumers realise the positive impact that a food-as-medicine approach can have on their health, demand has increased for well-trained, holistically minded nutritionists in Australia. We have also noticed a growing range of companies and organisations employing our nutrition graduates.
According to a recent national health survey, 68% of men, 55% of women and 25% of children in Australia are currently obese. This tells me qualified nutritional medicine practitioners have a crucial role to play in preventative health and reversing the obesity trend.
Indeed, an IBISWorld report shows that revenue from the nutrition and food segment in Australia increased by 44.9% in the past five years to 2013.
As an area of study, nutrition can lead to a fruitful career for entrepreneurs who have created diverse businesses in tea production, wellness consultancies, herbal personal care products, blogging and content curation. Others have become best-selling authors with books on cooking with superfoods, paleo diets and general wellness.
It is a vibrant and dynamic time for the education sector as we work to equip students with the skills and confidence to navigate through the ever-changing macro-environment and help them transform their qualification into a nourishing career. We see this growth continuing for another decade at least.
This is not a fad: it is a trend, and there are jobs out there that haven’t even been invented yet. They are lurking in the recesses of clever, creative people’s minds and the thinktanks of entrepreneurial corporates.
The importance of education goes far beyond preparing the student for entry to the job market. It has the power to provide graduates with a new perspective about the world and themselves. It can ultimately contribute to a nation’s economic growth, development and sustainable future.
At its best, the right education has the ability to empower people with the confidence and knowledge to chase and build the life and career of their dreams and society can only benefit from this.
- Carolyn Barker AM is chief executive of Endeavour Learning Group, an Australian dual-sector education provider to the natural health and wellness sectors.
- Soapbox is a weekly column in which we invite senior figures from the food, beverage, nutrition and wellness industries to write about what they consider to be the pressing issues of our time. The views expressed in Soapbox might not necessarily correspond to those of FoodNavigator-Asia.