Australian graduates leap onto job ladder

January 2, 2004

Australian graduates are securing high rates of employment in jobs paying good wages. A survey of almost 110,000 students who graduated at the end of 2002 found that more than 90 per cent had found jobs within four months of leaving university.

One in five respondents was undertaking further full-time study after gaining their qualifications. Men were more likely than women to continue studying. Of those seeking full-time work, slightly more women than men had been successful.

The Graduate Careers Council of Australia found that virtually all pharmacy graduates were in full-time employment, as were 98 per cent of those leaving medical school. About the same proportion of students who had completed initial nursing education were working full time.

Women were much more likely than men to have been in part-time or casual employment while looking for full-time work.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that only 3 per cent of graduates with bachelor degrees are unemployed, half the rate for the Australian labour force as a whole.

GCCA executive director Cindy Tilbrook said that while graduate employment prospects improved between 1999 and 2001, they fell slightly in 2002 and in 2003. But overall, she said, employment prospects remained excellent for new graduates.

The survey found that median starting salaries for bachelor-degree graduates rose from A$35,500 (£15,000) in 2002 to A$37,000 in 2003.

This was 82 per cent of average annual earnings, well below that experienced in the 1980s. As in previous years, dentistry graduates had the highest median starting salary, averaging A$55,000.

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