Grad, Grad Jobs, Graduate Careers Australia

Now is the Worst Time in History to be a Grad

Spare a thought for Australia’s poor graduates.

The latest employment figures from Graduate Careers Australia show now is the worst time in history to be a grad. And with the Aussie dollar diving, grads who can’t find a job will find it much harder to simply jet off to South America for a few months until things pick up again.

Last year almost 32 per cent of new grads were still looking for work three months after they finished their course, the highest figure since records began in 1982. This was down from around 29 per cent in 2013 and 24 per cent in 2012.

Grads from a non-English speaking background were less likely to be in full-time employment (39 per cent still looking for work), while indigenous grads were more likely to be working full-time (23 per cent still looking).


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The poor short-term outlook for new grads can largely be explained by continued uncertainty around the global economic outlook. In fact, hiring prospects have not fully recovered from the effects of the global financial crisis that began in 2008.

Longer-term though, the prospects for grads are much better.

GCA followed up grads surveyed in 2010 three years after they graduated, and found that 90 per cent had found full-time employment. And according to May 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, in the general labour force just 3.2 per cent of bachelor degree graduates are unemployed.

The financial rewards of tertiary education for successful grads are significant, too.

The median starting salary for grads younger than 25 was $52,500 per year, compared to $52,450 in 2013 and $52,000 in 2012. This represents 74 per cent of male average weekly earnings.

Male grads had a higher median starting salary than females – $55,000 compared to $52,000 – which can partly be explained by enrolment preferences. More men tend to enrol in degrees such as engineering, an industry with a comparatively high median starting salary. On the other hand, humanities degrees such as education tend to attract more female students, and have a comparatively low starting wage.

Finally, dentistry retains its crown as the highest paid graduate role in Australia, with a median starting salary of $75,000.

Looking for work?

If you’re looking to land a grad job, it’s important to start building out your resume as early as possible.

Grads who reported having previous work experience fared much better in finding a full-time role than those who did not.

The most successful ways grads found work were, in order; checking job ads on the internet, talking to friends and family, using their university careers service and approaching employers directly.


Want more? We chat to the Head of Recruitment at KPMG about what she looks for in a grad.