Almost half Australia's graduates leave university without the skills for a job

Graduates in Melbourne. Luis Enrique Ascui/Getty images

Only every second person graduating from Australian universities feel confident they have the right skills needed for a job.

GradAustralia, a start-up helping graduates find employment, surveyed 14,000 students across 38 universities for its Top 100 Graduate Employers publication.

Only 56% of those surveyed agreed with the statement: “My course provides me with the skills necessary for the labour market”.

The view was shared across disciplines, with the exception of teaching where 70% of students felt they’ve had the right skills.

All other degrees sat between 51% and 58%, with humanities at the lowest end, as this chart shows:

The high achieving students felt more confident they had the skills for work, with 59% of Distinction and High Distinction students agreeing with the statement compared with only 52% of for those with a Credit, Pass or Fail.

GradAustralia director Jeffrey Duncan says the results suggest employers will benefit from working closely with universities to ensure course programs are tailored to the skills needed on the job.

“With a rapidly evolving job landscape it’s so important that our graduates have the skills to solve the challenges of tomorrow,” says Duncan.

“Universities and employers both benefit from close collaboration to ensure our students are as confident and equipped to enter the labour market as they can be.”

KPMG Australia says it’s now engaging students with the real-world problems they will need to solve on the job.

“KPMG recognises that in addition to completing core academic studies, we need our graduates to develop specific soft skills that will be relevant to their role once commencing with us,” says Phil Rutherford, the head of talent acquisition.

“We provide opportunities for students in their final two years, through our Foundations and Vacationer Programs, with on the job classroom and virtual technical training coupled with a solid balance of soft skill development which complements their academic studies and prepares them for their first career step with the firm.

“We partner with universities to discuss our future talent and skills requirements and also deliver soft skill development opportunities on campus in areas such as effective networking, personal branding, presentation and interviewing skills.”

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