Degrees prove job passport

December 10, 1999

MELBOURNE. Australian graduates are finding it easier to get jobs and their starting salaries have risen, according to the Graduate Careers Council's latest report.

A survey of more than 95,000 graduates who completed degrees at the end of 1998 found job prospects had improved for the third year running. Of bachelor degree holders available for full-time work, 80 per cent had located jobs in four months of graduating.

A further 11 per cent were working part-time or on a casual basis while looking for full-time employment. Another 8 per cent were not working and still looking for full-time employment at the time of the survey.

The council's executive director, Roger Bartley, said graduate employment was at its highest level since 1990, although it was below that of the late 1980s. The improvement in starting salaries for graduates was also encouraging, although females did not fare as well as males.

Postgraduates had even better employment prospects and higher salaries than bachelor degree holders. The survey found that four out of five postgraduates were available for full-time work and of these the majority (88 per cent) were working full-time.

University graduates had the lowest unemployment rates among all Australian workers, Mr Bartley said. Unemployment among graduates in the labour force was generally half that of the population as a whole.

Starting salaries for graduates increased to almost 82 per cent of average weekly earnings, which at Aus$38,000 (Pounds 15,094) in 1999 were the highest recorded since 1992. But wages remain well below the levels graduates enjoyed in the 1980s.

The survey found male graduates earned 86.5 per cent of average earnings, up markedly from 83.3 per cent in 1998, whereas salaries for females fell slightly to 78.9 per cent.

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