Is graduate unemployment anyone’s fault or merely a fact of modern life?
“More than half of employers said tertiary credentials in management and commerce, creative arts and information technology were not relevant for the jobs in question.”
The annual Employer Satisfaction Survey (http://bit.ly/2E3Aa70) conducted by Australian Government released in Jan 2018 raises some serious questions for the 102,300 graduates from management and commerce courses, and 65,000 from society and culture courses (the first & second most popular field of study respectively) who graduated in 2017.
Delving deeper into the survey shows a slightly lower overall employer satisfaction rating from 2016 levels. Interesting, the satisfaction levels from the more vocationally relevant courses (engineering, education, health, architecture & building) are rated higher by employers than the more popular commerce/creative arts & IT areas.
How much of this is to do with the relevance of courses for current work places, and how much is to do with a graduate’s individual maturity, skillset and job readiness?
I’d argue that both of these factors are always at play. Certainly universities need to ensure they are continually reassessing their courses to provide relevant foundation knowledge and skills, educating for current environments and developing/sharing thought leadership. But my experience as a recruiter tells me that the latter is more crucial for successfully getting hired. Technical skills will be learnt ‘on the job’ (think life-long learning), but a person’s attitude to life, their mindset, ability to collaborate and listen, articulate ideas and work in an agile environment, makes the difference. The legislation in 2012 that uncapped the number of tertiary students has meant that universities have become less exacting in the calibre of their student intake and ongoing performance. The result is that while we have vast numbers of graduates on the market, employers are finding less graduates of the required calibre. The reported graduate unemployment numbers therefore increase.
While it’s difficult to apportion fault for the current situation, the real question is what can you do about it?
The good news is that the answer is not rocket-science! Take the onus on yourself by self-managing your career and its trajectory long before your actual graduation date, and develop great interpersonal skills that you can continue to hone over many years. It’s about standing apart from the huge numbers of graduates who don’t do any of this, and who therefore present very limited appeal for prospective employers. More good news – help is available at most tertiary institutes, although often limited. Beware that some tertiary career services have recently been outsourced to providers using unqualified career coaches. If you’re serious, then I’d recommend approaching a CDAA member (found via their website www.cdaa.org.au). You’ll have to pay for this service, but it will prepare the way for a successful career path, and teach you life-long skills for your own career management. It’ll be a worthwhile investment – trust me!