Jobs market still weak for uni graduates

By Leith van Onselen

The Productivity Commission’s recent productivity review showed that employment outcomes for full-time graduates “have been getting worse”, whereas a quarter of recent graduates believed their degrees added no value:

For those who do complete their degrees, post graduation outcomes have been getting worse. Full-time employment rates for recent graduates have been declining, even as the Australian economy has continued to grow (figure 3.3). Many of those who do not work full-time are not in that position by choice, with the underemployment ratio among graduates at 20.5 per cent in 2016, compared with about 9 per cent in 2008. Graduate starting salaries have also been growing slower than wages across the broader economy (declining from nearly 90 per cent of average weekly earnings in 1989 to about 75 per cent in 2015)…

Further, over a quarter of recent graduates believed they were employed full-time in roles unrelated to their studies, to which their degree added no value. To the extent that someone without a costly university education could have undertaken these roles, this can then have cascading employment and income effects down the skills ladder.

Many employers are also not satisfied with the quality of recent graduates, with about one in six supervisors saying that they were unlikely to consider or would be indifferent to graduates from the same university…

University students are also not satisfied with the teaching in their courses…

Today, a new survey has been released showing that graduates continue to struggle to find full-time work, despite the big lift in overall jobs growth over the past year. From The Canberra Times:

Although there have been small improvements since 2014, employment outcomes for new graduates are still significantly worse than than before the global financial crisis – despite a general employment boom…

The survey showed 71.8 per cent of undergraduates were in full-time work four months after leaving university – up 0.9 percentage points since 2016, but still well below the peak of 85.2 per cent in 2008.

The Grattan Institute’s higher education analyst Andrew Norton said the flood of graduates created by Labor’s demand-driven system, which increased university participation, had made the headline figures “worse”…

The subject areas with the lowest proportion of full-time employment after four months were the creative arts (55.4 per cent), science and mathematics (59 per cent), psychology (60.7 per cent) and communications (61.7 per cent).

The survey also noted a shift to part-time employment, primarily due to the “relatively weak” state of the labour market since the GFC. Since 2008, the proportion of employed graduates working part-time increased to 37.9 per cent from 22.8 per cent.

Many of those people were not seeking more hours due to continuing studies. But a stubbornly high 19.7 per cent of all employed graduates were unhappily underemployed, with the highest concentration in the creative arts, communications, tourism and hospitality, the humanities, science and maths.

This site has argued repeatedly that the uncapping of university places, and the subsequent explosion of students, has devalued a university degree, thereby worsening graduate outcomes.

It remains our view that the government should shift its focus to the vocational TAFE sector where there are genuine skills shortages.

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  1. However, the job market is strong for overseas uni graduates.

    For a modern, smart company, importing workers on a 457 visa is the way to go if you want to lower your wages bill and have fewer HR issues. You can also work them harder and they are scared to complain as you can just send ’em back home.

    Why settle for a poorly educated, entitled local when you can get a quality import for half the price – Speak to your friendly immigration lawyer about 457 visa’s today!

    • Productivity (along with management bonuses) also goes up when they work 14 hours for 8 hours pay.
      They are the gift that keep giving!

  2. To keep straya competitive wiht other relevant humans the wage rate has to fall to $11 hr for the US and $3 hr for say indonesia
    To compete with robots in straya , the no probably is in the order of say $10.00 hr
    To compete with robots located offshore , the no probably is in the order of say $3.00 hr.
    That is the future. Education or no education.
    AND females are on the same wage scale.

      • I’ll bet you are already dong the numbers, cos at those necessary future wage rates, your sit down money will dry up.
        No more free medical, have to cut grass for the most minimal payment.
        Its a bleak future for you.
        I dont think yourself and other punters have fully grasped the situation.
        AI has replaced the lower order of humans, starting 12 days ago.

  3. TAFE gives out diplomas in accounting and IT. And the Greens love giving accounting and IT jobs to foreigners.

    So there is no point in giving more money to TAFEs.

    There is huge merit in kicking out foreign “students” after they complete their “degree”. Theresa May kicks them out within 24 months of completing their degree – thus firms are forced to hire Britons instead of 3rd world passport holders.

    Japan does not let visa workers change firms. No longer working at the firm that “sponsored” you? Go back to the 3rd world.

    • Guys, wise up…the universe doesn’t owe you a guaranteed job and education solely for your skin colour or the very accident of your birth place.

      Be competitive or “keep complaining”…….

      Natural selection at its finest.

      • I doubt anyone on this website is saying that a “degree” be given to every voter. The opposite is true – 3rd world passport holders cheat on exams to come here and bribe professors once they get here.

        What are you going to do about Theresa May and Donald Trump kicking out 3rd world males?

        Be competitive? That is like asking the law abiding textile factories in Thailand to compete against illegal textile factories in Bangladesh. Or a cricket match in which one team is tampering with the ball and the other team is not.

    • I’m a massive fan of Theresa May’s approach to immigration = Kick them out

      International students should come for education and not to be part of Australia’s labor market when they graduate.

      • How about when they’re studying ?

        Foreign study is supposed to be as much about cultural exchange as learning.

        Do we only want the rich foreign kids doing it ?

        As with most aspects of the immigration ponzi, the problem is not the core concept, but the extent to which it has been carried out thanks to free market fundamentalism.

      • Philly SlimMEMBER

        Smithy – yes, we only want rich foreigners here. Poor ones that need to work take jobs of domestic residents. You should be able to pay for your degree with your foreign sourced funds otherwise education isn’t actually an “export” industry if they are paying the university with funds earned in Australia.

  4. Any recent job growth has been (low-skilled) immigration fueled, and mostly filled by (low-skilled) immigrants.

  5. MediocritasMEMBER

    If universities had to provided their own HECS-HELP schemes to their own students (instead of exploiting a third party), and were not funded by completions, rather by the profit from those loans (and by full fee paying students), then they’d have a rather different set of incentives.

    There would be a strong incentive to ensure that graduates moved through into well-paid jobs, thereby forcing universities to better coordinate their degrees on offer with the needs of would-be employers.

    Totally BS degrees that lead nowhere or an oversupply of graduates vs available jobs would both cost the universities directly. If they do want to keep offering such degrees, fine, but they’ll have to be funded by trust-fund kiddies who can afford to pay full fees and don’t mind blowing money on useless luxuries.