There’s still jobs for graduates

9 September 2015

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Graduate employment is always a hot topic, but it’s been hard to ignore the gloomy statistics of late.

Degree of doubt for journalism students and From the classroom to the scrap heap are headlines that have probably disheartened future graduates.

The recent Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) report, that compares statistics from 2008 to 2014, paints a grim picture.

In 2014, only 68.1 per cent of students were in full-time work four months after completing their degree. This compares to 85.2 per cent in 2008.

Up to 30 per cent of graduates were dissatisfied with their current position and were searching elsewhere. 20 per cent were working part-time while job hunting and 11.6 per cent were unemployed.




However, these statistics might not be as worrying as they appear.

Journalism lecturer at La Trobe University, Amanda Crane, tells upstart that it’s unrealistic to expect graduates to find work within four months of finishing their studies, as the GCA report suggests.

“We were telling people as far back as 2006 to give themselves nine months, and then as the economy started worsening, give it more like a year,” she says.

Crane attributes the apparent lack of jobs to the changing role of the modern journalist.

She says there are still positions out there for graduates, but they aren’t the traditional jobs students might expect.

“I think the opportunities for people just graduating are incredible, but they are not under the journalism heading specifically,” she says.

“[Positions] like content manager, content developer or marketing assistant. They are looking for an employee [that has] a degree in the communications field.”

Crane has herself experienced graduating into a troublesome job market.

In October 1987, the stock market fell 22 per cent, a day dubbed Black Monday­.

Crane graduated in August, just two months earlier.

Despite the economic instability, Crane and her colleagues were still able to land entry level jobs that year.

“We kept sending resumes, we kept calling people, we kept an eye out. Keep trying and keep communicating,” she says.

The statistics are not only reflective of the changing job market, but also the influx of course enrolments.

Enrolments in higher education have increased by 29 per cent since 2008. The number of journalism graduates has almost doubled.

The number of students enrolling in postgraduate study across all degrees has also increased by 1.2 per cent.

Crane says that media students are better off getting straight into the job market.

“During times of recession it’s not a bad idea to go into graduate school, but right now with everything changing so fast, and every year you’ve got more journalism graduates coming out, employers might see you as too expensive,” she says.

“If you want to be a teacher get the higher degree, but if you want to be a journalist, you need to be a journalist.”

Expert in higher education and youth transitions into employment, Johanna Wyn, tells upstart that employers often have a poor understanding of how to take advantage of graduates’ skills.

“Universities already do much to build pathways into employment through stronger links in professional courses, but they also build in opportunities through internships,” she says.

“Future graduates can prepare themselves for a competitive market by keeping options open in their study choices.”

She says there’s a need for broader understanding and flexibility.

“Everyone’s future careers will be unpredictable. Universities are not just preparing people for one career, they are providing the first step in what will for most people be a complex journey and is likely to involve working across different fields and in a range of careers.”

With the modern journalist ever-changing, journalism graduates need to be multifaceted and adaptable.

“Understanding where there are synergies across fields [is important]. These kinds of ‘border crossing’ learning experiences are a reflection of the way in which new jobs are heading,” Wyn says.

Although there is instability in the media industry, evolutionary change should not be confused with a decline in journalism.

Journalism is being reborn. The world still needs journalists.


This is part one of upstart’s series on graduating. You can read part two here: Navigating an uncertain future.

Erica JollyErica Jolly is a third-year Bachelor of Arts student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter: @EricaJolly.