Australian graduates increasingly settle for part-time jobs

Almost two-fifths of employed university leavers were working part-time in 2017 

January 17, 2018
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Increasing numbers of Australian graduates are settling for part-time employment, according to a report for the government’s Department of Education and Training.

A total of 37.9 per cent of employed university leavers were working part-time in 2017, in what the study describes as a “pronounced trend towards part-time employment among graduates”.

This represents a significant increase of 17.1 percentage points since 2008, the latest peak of the graduate labour market.

The Graduate Outcomes Survey, conducted by the Melbourne-based Social Research Centre, received responses from 120,747 graduates across 97 higher education institutions.

The survey also found that the full-time employment rate for university graduates four months after leaving their institution rose from 70.9 to 71.8 per cent between 2016 and 2017.

This shows an improvement from the low point of 68.1 per cent in 2014, which is consistent with a modest improvement in the overall labour market over the period, the report said.

But the full-time employment rate varied considerably according to the discipline area.

Catriona Jackson, Universities Australia’s acting chief executive, said that the report showed strong signs of recovery for the graduate jobs market.

“Graduate employment outcomes follow the curve of the economy,” she said. “With an improving labour market, we’re seeing a steady improvement in graduate job rates.

“These results make it even more difficult to understand why the government imposed A$2.2 billion (£1.3 billion) in cuts to universities and students just before Christmas, and intends to impose further penalties for universities that fail to meet subjective and arbitrary benchmarks.”

Simon Birmingham, the minister for education and training, urged students to use the survey to make the best possible choice when selecting a course and institution.

“For example, the results show that 82 per cent of graduates with degrees in teaching secured full-time employment within four months of finishing, with the figure dipping [to] under 61 per cent for graduates in the creative arts and communications field,” he said.

“It’s also clear that graduates in vocationally oriented fields such as dentistry and vet science are more likely to gain full-time employment than graduates with more generalist degrees such as management and commerce, and social sciences.

“It’s examples such as these that students should pay close attention to when considering offers.”

sophie.inge@timeshighereducation.com

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