Young grad­u­ate to jobs in Year 12


Uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion is of less ben­e­fit to young Aus­tralians than it used to be, with more grad­u­ates forced to take jobs re­quir­ing only a Year 12 ed­u­ca­tion.

A re­port from the Grat­tan In­sti­tute re­leased to­day shows that while grad­u­ates with bach­e­lor de­grees still earn more than those with­out, the pre­mium for de­gree hold­ers has shrunk over the past decade.

“An in­creas­ing pro­por­tion of early-ca­reer grad­u­ates are tak­ing jobs that re­quire only a Year 12 ed­u­ca­tion, such as sales and ser­vice po­si­tions,” the re­port, Map­ping Aus­tralian Higher Ed­u­ca­tion 2018, says.

“This nar­rows the in­come gap be­tween them and the peo­ple who fin­ished their ed­u­ca­tion at Year 12, re­duc­ing the life­time earn­ings ad­van­tage of hold­ing a bach­e­lor de­gree.”

Grat­tan In­sti­tute higher ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy di­rec­tor An­drew Nor­ton said the re­port re­vealed the im­pact of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and the end of the min­ing boom on grad­u­ate em­ploy­ment.

“This was a bad pe­riod in the labour mar­ket over­all,” he said. “I think the worst is over but I don’t think we’ll re­turn to pre­global fi­nan­cial cri­sis (con­di­tions) ei­ther.”

Mr Nor­ton and re­port coau­thor It­tima Cherastidtham found that in 2016, male uni­ver­sity grad­u­ates in the 25 to 34year-old age group were earn­ing 3 per cent less in real terms than in 2006.

Women grad­u­ates in the 25 to 34-year-old age group were do­ing bet­ter, earn­ing 4 per cent more in real terms in 2016 than in 2006. Mr Nor­ton said this was mainly be­cause women with chil­dren were work­ing more.

They were in­creas­ingly stay­ing in the work­force be­cause of bet­ter ma­ter­nity leave pro­vi­sions, and work­ing more hours be­cause of higher gov­ern­ment child­care ben­e­fits, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the im­pact on early ca­reer grad­u­ate earn­ings over the decade de­pended on the field of study. While in­comes for ed­u­ca­tion, nurs­ing and medicine grad­u­ates in the 25 to 34-year-old age group went up from 2006 to 2016, in­comes fell for com­merce and sci­ence grad­u­ates.

“Grad­u­ates from all dis­ci­plines ex­cept ed­u­ca­tion and medicine had lower full-time work rates over the decade,” the re­port says.

Even though the in­come pre­mium earned by grad­u­ates is falling, the re­port finds grad­u­ates are still more likely to have a job than peo­ple who have a vo­ca­tional level ed­u­ca­tion or those who did not go be­yond Year 12.

Last year, the unem­ploy­ment rate for grad­u­ates was 2.5 per cent, com­pared with 4 per cent for those with a vo­ca­tional di­ploma and 4.4 per cent for those with a Year 12-level ed­u­ca­tion.

More sig­nif­i­cantly, peo­ple with­out a uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion were far more likely to have dropped out of the labour force, mean­ing they would not show up in unem­ploy­ment sta­tis­tics.

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