In the News – More Training, More Gaining [Post-Grads and Grads still in high demand]

Further to my post last week about ‘Grads with attitude’, a week or two back the Australian posted this article about the continuing demand for Graduates (in particular Post-Graduates) and how this is likely to increase in the coming year. It’s no surprise that Grads with Mining related degrees are in most demand but it would seem that, with a ‘take up’ rate of over 85% there’ll be some stiff competition for almost all of them, which again begs the question; ‘from an L&D/OD perspective, what initiatives can be taken to attract the best grads and, of course, keep them on board?’


By: Andrew Trounson – The Australian – 10/09/11

POSTGRADUATES remained significantly more attractive to employers than new graduates during the economic downturn, but the signs are for demand to rise next year across the board.

A survey of about 48,000 recent postgraduates by Graduate Careers Australia shows that 86.3 per cent of those seeking full-time work last year had found a position, down a modest 3.6 percentage points from 89.9 per cent in 2008 when the financial crisis hit.

A further 7.8 per cent were working part time while seeking full-time work, and 5.9 per cent were unemployed but looking for full-time work.

In contrast, full-time employment rates for new graduates fell nine percentage points from 85.2 per cent in 2008 to 76.2 per cent last year, the lowest figure since 1994.

A further 15.1 per cent were working part time while seeking a full-time position, and 8.6 per cent were unemployed while looking for full-time positions.

Disciplines in highest demand continued to be those tailored to the mining and infrastructure sectors, such as engineering, as well as health-related professions.

Graeme Bryant, senior research associate at Graduate Careers Australia, said the postgraduate employment market had been relatively stable throughout the downturn.

“Anecdotally you’d suggest that if there is an oversupply of graduates, then a postgraduate is more likely to find work than an undergraduate,” Bryant said.

But that was partly explained by the older age of postgraduates and the likelihood they had more relevant work experience than bachelor degree holders.

Ben Reeves, chief executive of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers, which represents large employers with graduate intake programs, said the job outlook was improving for graduates.

“My sense is that more organisations are planning to recruit more graduates than they did last time around,” Reeves said.

While AAGE members tended to focus on graduates, postgraduates this year made up 15 per cent of the total intake, up from 14 per cent last year.

The Graduate Careers Australia survey is based on the responses of postgraduates about four months after graduating.

It showed that postgraduate diploma or certificate holders had the highest rates of full-time employment at 88.3 per cent. Full-time employment rates for research degrees and coursework masters were similar at 84.9 per cent and 84.7 per cent respectively.

Generally, engineering, nursing and dentistry had the highest employment rates, reflecting the mining boom, infrastructure demand and the growing demand for health professionals in an ageing population.

More than 95 per cent of those with postgraduate diploma/certificate qualifications in engineering, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy had secured full- time work.

In contrast 33 per cent of those from the visual and performance arts looking for full-time work had not yet found it. For electronic/computing engineering diploma/certificate postgraduates, 27 per cent were yet to find the full-time job they were seeking.

Similarly for coursework masters graduates, more than 95 per cent of those in nursing, pharmacy and the physical sciences had found full-time work. But in accounting and electronic and computing engineering, more than 30 per cent were still looking, as were 20 per cent of graduates from architecture, languages, visual and performing arts, aeronautical engineering, mathematics and geology.

The survey found that the median salary for a postgraduate was $70,000 last year, up from $68,600 in 2009. Those with coursework masters degrees commanded the highest median salaries at $75,000, followed by research masters and PhDs with $70,000, while postgraduate diploma or certificate median salaries were $65,000.

Median salaries were highest in the government sector at $79,400, compared with $75,000 for the private sector. The health sector commanded a median salary of $70,000, compared with education at $65,000.

The highest median salary was recorded by male coursework masters graduates in the government sector at $90,000, while female diploma/certificate postgraduates in education attracted the lowest at $57,000.

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