The relevance of tertiary education in the modern workplace is being questioned, with a new survey revealing young graduates are struggling to find full-time employment.
The Foundation for Young Australians annual report says while in 1986 it took the average Australian just one year to find full-time work after studying, it now takes graduates up to five years.
Meanwhile some school leavers are climbing the corporate ladder within a few years after electing to forgo further study.
Elle Rooke, group customer service manager for the Country Road Group, gained her current job not only without a degree, but also without having graduated high school.
“I have no training or qualifications in what I do yet I run a department of 35 people with a multi-million dollar budget and we turn over about $1.2 million a year,” she told The Newsroom.
“Hard work can get you somewhere.
“I have to admit as well, both of my sisters studied pretty good degrees and didn’t get a role in their fields, so they now do completely different things.”
Stories like Ms Rooke’s sisters are not uncommon, with the annual report also revealing a quarter of young Australians don’t use the skills they learned studying in their current positions.
Luke Tengstrom, 23, has a CV that boasts employers such as ME Bank and Google but he hasn’t yet attained a university degree.
After starting to study full-time, Mr Tengstrom said he was finding it difficult to understand the theory-based curriculum without any hands on experience.
He believed getting the degree was important but advocated “integrated work learning” at university, with much of his study not making sense to him until he started interning.
“University material hasn’t caught up with the current environment,” he told The Newsroom.
“I don’t feel any university was going to give me enough confidence to go into the workforce the way I have.”
It appears many agree with Mr Tengstrom, with the 2015 Future Leaders Index revealing 84 per cent of young Australians thought students needed more workplace training.
He said one of the problems was that while this experience was beneficial, many employers wouldn’t provide the opportunity for experience unless employees were already studying.
“I think university grads don’t equip grads with the right skills for full-time work yet, at the same time, I wouldn’t have ended up with the jobs I’ve had if I wasn’t studying a university degree.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed more young people are studying than ever before, stating 26 per cent of 18-34 year olds had a bachelor’s degree in 2011, compared with five per cent in 1976. – Amber Greasley
Top photo by Mohammad Rassawala