University graduates are struggling to find full-time work

Peter Terlato 4 October 2016

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Under half of all graduates have found employment.

A new study has found the proportion of Australian university graduates gaining full-time employment has been in constant decline between 2008 and 2014.

A working paper undertaken by researchers from the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University entitled Has the graduate job market been swamped? reveals that in 2014 just 41.7% of graduates found a full-time job, compared with 56.4% in 2008.

However, the decline in full-time employment hasn't negatively affected graduate starting salaries.

This is not the first time there has been a significant drop in the rate of full-time graduate employment. According to the study, the ratio fell between between 1990 and 1992/1993 before recovering.

However, this earlier slump was accompanied by a substantial increase in the proportion of those in full-time study. This isn't the case with the current assessment. Instead, there have been increases in part-time employment, unemployment and non-participation.

Despite the drop in full-time graduate employment, the ratio in some fields was better than others and on average the quality of jobs obtained by graduates has actually increased between 2008 and 2014.

For example, graduates of the Group of Eight universities, and to a lesser extent graduates of the Innovative universities, have seen the greatest improvement in jobs quality.

Graduates of medicine have obtained better quality jobs to the greatest degree, while graduates of psychology and behavioural sciences have seen the greatest declines in job quality.

Last month, we reported the highest-paid uni graduates, now working full-time, are employed in the fields engineering and related technologies and management and commerce.

Unemployment rates of graduates also remain well below other groups, such as Year 12 leavers.

Even so, the report suggests that as long as higher education expands, there is always going to be a concern that the supply of graduates will outstrip the demand, leading to poorer labour market outcomes.

University graduates earn substantially more over their lifetime than those who don't study, however, it can be tough for students to afford course fees, with some relying on their parents to cover their costs.

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