- The proportion of new university graduates in Australia finding full-time work within four months is improving, although it still remains well below levels seen in the past.
- Deloitte Access Economics says the decline since the GFC likely reflects that employers are placing less emphasis on tertiary qualifications.
- Australian businesses are reporting greater difficulties in finding suitably skilled staff.
If you think obtaining an undergraduate degree will see you walk into a full-time job in Australia, this chart provides some food for thought.
From Deloitte Access Economics, it shows the proportion of degree-holders who are in full-time employment four months after graduating.
“The last decade has raised a question mark over this traditional path to success, with new graduates finding it increasingly difficult to crack that first job after graduation,” says David Rumbens and Amber Caple, members of the Deloitte Access Economics team.
“Following the 2008 global financial crisis, there was a significant decline in the graduate employment rate. Graduate employment outcomes fell sharply from 85% in 2008 to 68% in 2014, similar to the decline seen during the 1991 recession.”
While there has been some improvement in the proportion of new graduates finding full-time employment in recent years, mirroring a broader strengthening in the labour market that has seen unemployment fall to six-year lows, it still remains well below the levels seen in the past.
Rumbens and Caple put the decline down to two factors — employers putting less emphasis on tertiary qualifications as well as a mismatch in skills that firms want and graduates possess.
“While improving graduate employment is good news, graduate employment outcomes are still low compared to before the GFC, suggesting employers are not placing the premium on higher education that they once were,” they say.
“Furthermore, the world of work that graduates are entering is continuing to change, particularly as technological disruption impacts the nature of jobs in many industries.
“Given this rapid change, better aligning qualifications to this new world of work could improve the employability of new graduates.”
In separate research released by Deloitte Access Economics, the group noted that the proportion of graduates leaving university with degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) fields — those sectors where many suspect growth in employment will occur in the future — actually fell over the past decade in Australia.
According to businesses surveyed by the National Australia Bank late last year, skill shortages were more acute now than average levels seen over the past couple of decades.
For those looking at undertaking a new degree, or for those about to finish their studies, the chart below from Deloitte Access Economics shows the proportion of new graduates who have found full-time work within four months by individual sector, comparing the results to what was seen three years ago.
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