Australian graduates are quids in

December 21, 2001

Starting salaries for graduates in Australia are at their highest level for ten years, according to a survey of 90,000 students who completed their degrees at the end of 2000.

Graduate employment has also improved, with 83 per cent of new degree-holders finding a full-time job within four months of finishing their courses. A further 10 per cent were working part-time while looking for a full-time job. Only 7 per cent had failed to find employment.

The survey by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia found the median starting salary for bachelor degree graduates under 25 was A$35,000 (£12,500). This is 86 per cent of average weekly earnings (almost A$41,000) and is the highest since 1990.

Male graduates were on an annual starting salary of A$36,000 (up from A$34,500 last year) while females earned A$34,000 (up from A$32,000). So although the income gap between the sexes continues, women appear to be slowly catching up.

Females were much more likely than males to have been in part-time or casual employment while looking for a full-time position. A report of the survey says this is likely to be a reflection of females' dominance in fields such as teaching and nursing, where opportunities exist for part-time work.

Males tended to choose higher-paying fields of study such as dentistry, medicine and computer science. So whereas 32 per cent of the males graduates surveyed were from the top five fields, less than 7 per cent of women had enrolled in these areas.

Graduate unemployment is half that of the working population as a whole and only 3 per cent of bachelor degree-holders are unemployed compared with 9.5 per cent of those who have not completed secondary education.

Medical graduates topped the employment list with 100 per cent in full-time work.

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