The future of work for Australian Graduates

The Australia Institute released a new report last week. It focuses on how the struggling labour market over the last decade has made it more challenging for graduates to find stable, rewarding, full-time jobs.

For example, in 2008 85% of graduates found full time work within 4 months of graduating, in 2018 that figure was down to 73%.

Whilst the author Dr Jim Stanford was keen to point out that this figure in no way reflects on the quality of graduates – in fact he said “they’re better trained than any generation in history” – he stated that the changing labour market has meant that some degrees which were in demand a few years ago, now don’t have the same positive job outcomes.

So what were the key takeaways from this report?

  • A university degree is still a very worthwhile pathway

 

  • University graduates are still better off in the long term and “You’re better off with a degree than without one” – Dr Stanford.

 

  • University degrees remain an important and desirable qualification in the minds of employers. According to the report currently “32% of all jobs require a Bachelor degree or higher qualification, and this share is projected to increase. Almost half of all jobs created over the next five years (over 400,000 jobs) are expected to require a university degree or higher qualification”.

Why are you better off with a degree? The report found:

  • Graduates are more likely to enter careers higher up the ladder
  • Graduates currently have better employment prospects, with 80% employed compared with 63% of people without higher education.
  • Graduates are more likely to be employed full time (63%) as opposed to those without higher education qualifications at 41%.
  • The ‘graduate premium’ relating to higher career earnings (over their lifetime) still applies to graduates. Female graduates have been calculated to earn over $600,000 more than female counter-parts with no post-school qualifications, and male graduates $790,000 more than their counterparts.

 

  • Vocational degrees linked to and regulated by specific occupations, including medicine, nursing, engineering and teaching have the best graduate employment placement rates.

 

  • Generalised degrees, not linked with any specific career outcomes, including creative arts, communications, science, maths and social services have been linked with the worst performing graduate career placements.

 

In conclusion, if you are keen on going to university don’t be put off by some of the articles linked to this report. All-in-all a university degree is still a highly valued qualification.

You might want to consider a more studying a degree with more career focused outcomes, that could improve your chances of getting full time employment on graduation.

If you’d like to study one of the listed subjects, e.g. you’re passionate about Maths, then go ahead and study those subjects. Maybe you could consider majoring in topics that could help your career prospects. Or for example, consider a teaching degree to become a maths teacher.

Looking for degrees that include work experience, or offering internships, traineeships and cadetships with partner companies could also boost your graduate employability prospects. If you can’t find a degree that offers those, there are plenty of business looking for students to work with them during the summer breaks, or employed in short term positions upon graduation.

The report also confirms that higher education provides an important cultural function, and that the “value of university education, both for the individuals who obtain it and for society as a whole, remains clear”.

Recommendations have been made for the Government and Universities to find solutions to modernise the higher education system, that will meet the needs and demands of a changing labour market. So watch this space.

If you’d like to read more about the report, here’s the summary report

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