The latest national report on graduate outcomes suggests short-term graduate-employment rates have stabilised, with pharmacy, engineering and teaching degrees among the top performing for job prospects this year.
The results were published by Universities Australia in the 2021 graduate outcomes survey (GOS) on Tuesday, revealing that despite the negative effects of COVID-19, median salaries rose and full-time employment four months after graduation increased by 68.9% since last year.
From 2019 and 2020 graduate employment levels had declined but this year’s results level out the trend.
Alan Tudge, federal education and youth minister, said the results of the survey was welcome news for new graduates.
“It’s encouraging to see that despite the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, students are getting on with their lives, graduating and moving quickly into full-time work,” Tudge said in a statement.
“The results of the survey also back the rationale that underpins our Job-ready Graduates reform package, where student fees were reduced in study areas of national priority, in courses such as health and science, where students are most likely to get a job,” he said.
This year a total of 127, 827 students responded to the survey, reporting that the overall graduate employment rate for both full-time and part-time employment stayed similar compared with 2020 (84.8% this year compared with 85.1% the previous year).
For undergraduate qualifications, the median full-time salary level slightly increased from $64,700 last year to $65,000 in 2021.
CEO of Universities Australia Catriona Jackson said that university qualifications continued to put students in good stead — even in the face of the downturn induced by the pandemic. She noted that traditionally, graduate employment tended to ‘outstrip the trajectory of the national economy’ and should be regarded as a qualification that could help weather a challenging economic climate.
“While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt everywhere, a degree continues to give students the edge in an increasingly competitive employment market,” Jackson said.
“The survey also shows signs of a recovery in the graduate job market. As vaccination rates improve, and reach beyond 80% in some places, and more states begin to open up, it is highly likely the premium for graduates will grow further,” she said.
Among some of the top-performing universities for graduate employment were Charles Sturt University (84.6%), followed by Central Queensland University (83.4%) and the University of New England (80.9%).
This year’s survey also underscored an ongoing gap in the pay for men and women — this year it widened further from 2.5% in 2020 to 3.9% in 2021.
“This remains an inequity which must be addressed,” Jackson said.