Australian universities, even its most prestigious, are being blamed for not producing graduates that meet the standards business employers want, a new survey of Australian employers and employees have found.
More than half of employers say the popular management and commerce degrees are not important and more than a quarter of graduates say their degrees are close to useless for their jobs, The Australian reported.
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Innes Willox, head of employer organisation Australian Industry Group, said the results showed tertiary education was “failing to keep up” with the needs of employers, who were finding some graduates close to unemployable.
Writing in The Australian today:
“Employers’ frustration with job applicants often relates to the lack of employability skills that they want and need but often can’t find in new graduates.”
“There is a long way to go to build the support young people need to develop the capabilities for a rewarding and productive life in the workplace,” he added, suggesting their being “comfortable with an acceleration of technologies — working with people, systems, machines and virtual spaces” was crucial.
The survey also found that more than 10 percent of graduates surveyed said their qualification was “not at all” important. Another 15 percent said it’s “not that” important for their job.
Employers seem to agree with this – more than half of employers said tertiary credentials in management and commerce, creative arts and information technology were not relevant for the jobs in question.
“Supervisors of information technology with 45 percent (approval), management and commerce, and creative arts graduates, both at 48 percent, were least likely to think that the qualification was important for current employment,” the study found.
This raises questions about the US$17 billion in Australian taxpayers’ money going to fund its universities. Education Minister Simon Birmingham said government changes announced in December, which will cap the amount it contributes for each student at 2017 levels in the next two years, would deliver results.
“We should see better outcomes for graduates and better value for taxpayers,” Birmingham said.
The Employer Satisfaction Survey was funded by the government and surveyed more than 97,000 graduates, 4,000 employers and 41 universities. In terms of employer satisfaction, the highest approval ratings did not go to any of the Go8 “sandstone” universities in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Instead, top marks went to James Cook University with 91 percent, while the lowest went to the University of South Queensland at 77 percent.
Overall satisfaction among employers decreased from 2016, at 84 percent for 2017. They were found to be most satisfied with more vocationally relevant courses, such as engineering, health, architecture and building, and education compared to less specific degrees.
“Universities must place student outcomes at the forefront of their considerations to meet the needs of our economy, employers and ultimately boost the employment prospects of graduates,” Senator Birmingham said.