Graduate Employment Outcomes

University graduates in the labour market

While higher level qualifications ultimately improve employment prospects, employment outcomes for students immediately after graduation have weakened in recent years. Graduate Careers Australia’s (GCA) data show that in 2015, 67.4% of bachelor degree and 82.9% of masters degree graduates found employment (full-time or part-time) within four months of completing their studies.1

Employed four months after graduation

Employed four months after graduation
Year Bachelor degree graduates Masters degree graduates
2015 67.4 82.9
2014 66.3 83.4
2013 66.5 82.0
2012 68.0 83.8
2011 69.1 84.4

Some bachelor degree graduates elect to continue in further full-time study. In 2015, 19.7% were in further full-time study, down from 20.8% in 2014.

Employment outcomes by selected field of education, bachelor degree graduates (% of graduates)

This bar chart shows employment outcomes of bachelor degree graduates by selected fields of education. Education - 52.0% were employed full-time and 31.9% were employed part-time. Health - 50.4% were employed full-time and 27.6% were employed part-time. Management and Commerce - 55.4% were employed full-time and 21.3% were employed part-time. Engineering and Related Technologies - 59.1% were employed full-time and 12.6% were employed part-time. Information Technology - 51.6% were employed full-time and 18.2% were employed part-time. Architecture and Building - 50.6% were employed full-time and 18.5% were employed part-time. Agriculture, Environmental & Related Studies - 37.0% were employed full-time and 26.2% were employed part-time. Creative Arts - 26.6% were employed full-time and 34.8% were employed part-time. Society and Culture - 31.5% were employed full-time and 24.7% were employed part-time. Natural and Physical Sciences - 19.6% were employed full-time and 21.8% were employed part-time.

Bachelor degree graduates in Education, Health and Management and Commerce generally have the strongest employment outcomes. Specific fields of education with good employment outcomes for bachelor degree graduates in 2015, were

  • Nursing – Initial (87.4% of graduates found employment)
  • Education – Initial (84.6%)
  • Medicine (80.9%).

Other disciplines, though, have relatively weak employment outcomes (although outcomes may improve with further study)

  • Chemistry (38.1%)
  • Life Sciences (44.5%)
  • Physical Sciences (45.9%).

Disciplines with strong full-time employment are

  • Medicine (75.5% employed full-time)
  • Pharmacy (74.3%)
  • Surveying (70.3%).

These figures relate to graduates in employment in any occupation, not necessarily in occupations related to their field of study.

Employment outcomes for vocational education and training (VET) graduates

National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) figures show that employment outcomes for graduates from the vocational education and training (VET) system have weakened slightly over recent years.

In 2015, 74.2% of VET graduates were employed (full-time or part-time) six months after completing their training. Those who undertook their training as part of an apprenticeship or traineeship had stronger employment outcomes, with 84.1% employed six months after completing their training.

Employed six months after graduation

Employed six months after graduation table
Year Bachelor degree graduates Masters degree graduates
2015 74.2% 84.1%
2014 77.6% 85.5%
2013 78.1% 85.4%
2012 77.9% 85.7%
2011 78.7% 86.7%

VET graduates in Education, Architecture and Building and Engineering and Related Technologies have the strongest employment outcomes. Employment outcomes are relatively weak for VET graduates in Information Technology and Creative Arts.

Architecture and Building VET graduates have the highest proportion in full-time employment, while those who studied Society and Culture, Creative Arts and Health are more likely to be working part-time.

Employment outcomes by field of education, VET graduates (% of graduates)

This bar chart shows employment outcomes of VET graduates by fields of education. Education - 45.9% were employed full-time and 39.7% were employed part-time. Architecture and Building - 72.0% were employed full-time and 13.1% were employed part-time. Engineering and Related Technologies - 68.8% were employed full-time and 13.8% were employed part-time. Agriculture, Environmental & Related Studies - 62.2% were employed full-time and 18.4% were employed part-time. Health - 35.9% were employed full-time and 42.1% were employed part-time. Food, Hospitality and Personal Services - 37.7% were employed full-time and 36.3% were employed part-time. Society and Culture - 28.0% were employed full-time and 45.0% were employed part-time. Management and Commerce - 44.2% were employed full-time and 27.8% were employed part-time. Natural and Physical Sciences - 35.8% were employed full-time and 29.7% were employed part-time. Creative Arts - 13.3% were employed full-time and 42.2% were employed part-time. Information Technology - 28.5% were employed full-time and 20.4% were employed part-time.

The level of qualification makes a difference

Generally, the higher the qualification level, the stronger the employment outcomes. VET graduates who hold a certificate IV are the most likely to find employment. Although employment outcomes are relatively low for those with a certificate I, this level of qualification can be a pathway to further study and attainment of higher qualifications.

Employment (full-time or part-time) outcomes six months after graduation, by level of qualification, were

  • Diploma or higher VET qualification (78.7% were employed)
  • Certificate IV (80.6%)
  • Certificate III (74.7%)
  • Certificate II (55.6%)
  • Certificate I (47.0%).

1. These figures differ from those published by GCA, which refer to the number of bachelor degree graduates who secured full-time employment as a proportion of those available for full-time employment. The figures above are for bachelor degree graduates who secured any form of employment as a proportion of all bachelor degree graduates (irrespective of their availability for work).

Sources: NCVER, Government-Funded Student Outcomes; GCA, Graduate Destinations, unpublished data; GCA, GradStats, 2015