Graduates Are Leaving University Feeling Underprepared, Say Working Would Have Been Better Than A Degree

Uh oh. Photo: Joshua Lott/ Getty.

Youth unemployment is at a 12-year high of 13.1%.

This is more than twice that of the national unemployment rate at 6.0%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The numbers follow the Government’s latest proposed overhaul on the work-for-the-dole program, which from July 1 2015 will force jobseekers to look for 40 jobs a month and perform up to 25 hours of community service to receive welfare packages.

The tough job seeking conditions have left many graduates feeling like university was a waste of time and money.

According to a recent study by recruitment site Oneshift, which surveyed 1,139 Australian jobseekers, nearly 50% of graduates feel their degree left them inadequately prepared for the workforce.

But even more surprisingly a further 80% believe work experience is valued more highly by employers than tertiary qualifications.

OneShift CEO Gen George says tertiary institutions now need to take this on board and place more focus on work experience programs so students simultaneously develop professional skills needed in workplace.

“Tertiary institutions in this country are of outstanding quality, and offer a rich learning experience for those who can attend,” she says. “However, what we’re seeing is that students don’t necessarily feel that those three or four years of study have properly prepared them for the realities of the working world.

Graduates also need to take responsibility and organise their own work experience for weekends or semester breaks.

George says this is the only way they will be able to find the industry right for them.

“These years are an excellent opportunity to build the skills, contacts and confidence that will help you succeed in the workplace. It shows great initiative and also offers you the chance to form a better idea of the kind of career you may like to pursue, or to be honest, avoid.”

Despite the lack of trust in a degree, employers still see the value in it.

In fact Stuart Marburg, CEO of MessageMedia and co-founder of the former Netspace, says it’s not about having one or the other, “both are important”.

“At university you learn a lot of valuable skills that you need for work like researching, working in teams and working independently and adhering to deadlines. It also gives you insight into the work environment where you need to turn up on time, work in a structured environment and mix with different people from different backgrounds”, he told Business Insider. “I also think universities are great at exposing people to new technologies and new ways of working beyond what they are used to. Not to mention a lot of professions require you to have a degree, either at entry level or if you want to continue to grow and move forward in your chosen career.”

Then work experience then allows you to put this knowledge and skills to practise.

“Job experience helps build your business sense – you learn that things cost money, and that money has to come from somewhere. It also teaches you the importance of delivering an outcome, rather than something theoretical.”

It proves having a degree is still worth its while and not just because bosses like you to have one, but it also pays better.

According to a National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling report published in 2012, sponsored by financial services company AMP, Australians with postgraduate degrees will earn almost double, or $3.2 million, over their working lives compared to people with Year 11 or less qualification, who can expect to earn only $1.7 million.

For example, “a 25-year-old working in the management and commerce sector would earn $3.6 million if they had a Bachelor or Postgraduate Degree, but only $2.1 million if they had no university degree.”

The debate about university education remains a controversial point of discussion depending on what industry sector you work in.

Last year Business Insider published: ‘I Consider Law School A Waste Of My Life And An Extraordinary Waste Of Money’.

The story follows a 28-year-old lawyer who regretted his decision to go to university. While it comes from the U.S., his opinion is a very sobering and similar outlook, similar to the jobs sector in Australia. You can read it here.


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