My book, ‘When Study Goes Wrong’ looks into the issue of graduate employment, focusing on graduates who have been unable to work in their field of study through no fault of their own. Using my own experience and interviews with other graduates, I shed light on this prevalent issue.
Let’s take a look at what the statistics available about university graduate outcomes say. In the 2014 Annual Graduates Survey conducted by Graduate Careers Australia, there was a response rate to the survey of 59.3% of Australian resident graduates.
The survey reported a slight drop in the short-term employment prospects of graduates, with the percentage of students who were in full-time employment within 4 months of their graduation measured at 68.1%, compared to 71.3% in 2013. This was then followed by the percentage of graduates working part-time or casually while still looking for full-time work at 20.3% and 11.6% who were not working and looking for employment.
What these statistics don’t cover is whether the reported employment is actually within the graduate’s field of study. The answer is that it may well be in another area. What is counted is employment, not whether that employment is within the field of study.
As school leavers look forward to the end of the year, they also look into their options. Uni, TAFE, apprenticeships? The choices are there and students need to make an informed choice, not only in regards to the area of study but the jobs available in that field.
The graduates I interviewed studied a number of fields – law, communication, business, IT, engineering and more. There was an over-representation of graduates in law. Just like myself, they had struggled to find employment within their field. One eventually found a way due to having the capacity to do extended periods of work experience. Others didn’t-they chose new paths and coped with this unexpected outcome of their study. Underemployment. One retrained and became a hairdresser, another returned to his previous career as a teacher, another started her study with the hope of improving her circumstances and found that she had been better off working in retail than she was as an unemployed law graduate.
What is evident is that the current economic climate is affecting more and more graduates. Graduates need to be prepared to cope with an uncertain future. My advice to school leavers is to choose carefully, research job prospects in their field and do everything they can to create connections in that field. This should be done as early as their first year of study.
Study is a large investment, an investment that may or may not pay off. If you’d like to read more, check out my book at the link below: http://www.amazon.com/When-Study-Goes-Wrong/dp/1494862875