Tag Archives: graduate employment

graduate employment

Graduate employment in a changing world

How do you best set yourself up to get your dream job in a competitive marketplace? What are the skills that you need to succeed in graduate employment, and how can you determine these skills when technology, the global economy and the make-up of the skilled workforce are rapidly changing?

As the government stands poised on a knife’s edge, Science Meets Business set out to determine the top ways skilled workers can position themselves in today’s uncertain times, and the best future prospects for graduate employment. Our panel of thought leaders considered the importance of the skills that aren’t taught in our universities – how to network, pitch yourself, stay a specialist but garner the ability to work across a broad range of disciplines, with people from a variety of fields.

Getting out of your comfort zone

Scientists becoming marketers, industry business developers that can speak to research – different timelines, different prerogatives, different values, varied benchmarks of success, and the struggle towards a gender equitable workforce. These are just of a few of the road bumps on the path towards a new economy based on skills and services, ideas and inventions, rather than resources.

Job requiring skills in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) grew at about 1.5 times the rate of other jobs in recent years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s great news.

But ensuring our STEMM-skilled workforce has the best opportunities for graduate employment requires more than a passion for work.

Competition in graduate employment

More graduates today are looking for work than there have been for the last 24 years – a record 11.6% of graduates in Australia in 2014 were seeking full-time graduate employment – without success, according to the 2014 Graduate Destinations report from Graduate Careers Australia.

In this competitive workplace, we must ensure not only that we prepare our graduates for success – creating, skilled, agile workers – but that we have the economy that can support them in the future.

How do we get there? We asked our panel of experts to map the path.

Heather Catchpole

Co-founder, Refraction Media

Read next: Victor RodriguesChief Software Architect at Cochlear, on what makes a prospective graduate stand out in the crowd.

People and careers: Meet graduates and postgraduates who’ve paved brilliant, cross-disciplinary careers here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s graduate knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on creating and propelling top Australian graduates. We’d love to hear from you!

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Australian Innovation Thought Leadership Series here.

industry experience

Industry experience propels graduates

STEM education and industry experience are key to delivering relevant skills in the information-rich modern economy. When it comes to important capabilities such as active learning, critical thinking and complex and creative problem solving, STEM qualified employees are the most highly ranked.

Australia clearly needs more STEM-qualified people entering the workforce. Over recent years, occupations requiring STEM qualifications have grown 1.5 times faster than all other occupation groups. Unfortunately, only 15% of the current working age population have a STEM qualification (Certificate III or above).

Research by the Office of the Chief Scientist with Deloitte Access Economics demonstrates the nature of STEM skills sought by employers. Eighty-two per cent of employers believe employees with STEM qualifications are valuable to the workplace. Over 70% consider their STEM staff as among the most innovative. The important link between STEM skills and innovation is also highlighted in the Australian Government’s new National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Business must collaborate with universities and other STEM educators to re-focus graduate capabilities. There are concerns around the ability of current university graduates to meet workforce challenges. The Australian Industry Group‘s Workforce Development Needs Surveys report that employers continue to experience difficulties recruiting STEM qualified workers – both technicians and professionals.

Quality is as much an issue as quantity. The proportion of employers saying recruits lack relevant qualifications doubled between 2012 and 2014. Dissatisfaction also rose with regards to lack of employable skills and industry experience.


“All graduates are better prepared to contribute productively in the workplace if they have the opportunity to integrate theory with industry experience while at university.”


Graduates are taking longer to find employment after the completion of their studies. All graduates are better prepared to contribute productively in the workplace if they have the opportunity to integrate theory with industry experience while at university.

Work integrated learning is critical to improving graduate quality and employability. The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is working with Universities Australia on a number of initiatives to improve student-industry accessibility, including the National Framework for Work Integrated Learning.

Businesses recognise that productivity of graduates can be higher sooner if the new recruits understand business environments and cultures, can problem solve, take initiative and work well in teams. Those businesses that collaborate and practice work integrated learning see its value in the graduates they take on board.

To improve innovation collaboration in Australia, we need action from government, universities, and industry. Ai Group is part of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre, which helps connect researchers and their work with small and medium sized businesses. That is where the potential for genuine industry transformation lies.

A broader effort by industry to build collaboration skills and practices is also needed. The cultural barriers to collaboration may be higher in Australia than elsewhere, but they are not set in stone. Industry participation and partnership with universities must be bolder and strongly integrated with approaches to graduate employability.

Innes Willox

CEO, Australian Industry Group

Read next: Tanya MonroDeputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, on why STEM skills are key to Australia’s prosperity.

People and careers: Meet graduates and postgraduates who’ve paved brilliant, cross-disciplinary careers here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s graduate knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on creating and propelling top Australian graduates. We’d love to hear from you!

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Australian Innovation Thought Leadership Series here.