Short-term graduate employment rates have stabilised, and median salaries are on the rise despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest national report on graduate outcomes.
The 2021 Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) shows employment rates for graduates four months after leaving university. The survey, the largest of its kind and completed by 127,827 graduates, shows that after declining between 2019 and 2020 graduate employment levels levelled out this year.
The full-time graduate employment rate increased from 68.7 per cent to 68.9 per cent, while the overall employment rate for both full-time and part-time employment for recent graduates remained broadly similar to last year with 84.8 per cent in jobs (compared to 85.1 per cent in 2020).
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the results of the survey demonstrated yet again the benefit of a graduate qualification.
“While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being felt everywhere, a degree continues to give students the edge in an increasingly competitive employment market,” Ms Jackson said.
“The survey also shows signs of a recovery in the graduate job market. As vaccination rates improve, and reach beyond 80 per cent in some places, and more states begin to open up, it is highly likely the premium for graduates will grow further.”
“Graduate employment traditionally out-strips the trajectory of the national economy. So, a university education equips you for success in even the most challenging economic environment.”
“These data show that while the prospects for graduates after they complete their studies are strong, they improve significantly with time.”
“Within three years of finishing their studies, nearly nine in 10 graduates are employed full-time.”
The survey shows that the number of hours graduates work has increased for both full-time and part-time employees, along with salaries.
The median full-time undergraduate salary level increased slightly from $64,700 in 2020 to $65,000 in 2021. Female undergraduates continue to earn less than male undergraduates in 2021, $64,200 compared with $66,800 respectively.
“The survey shows a widening gender pay gap of 3.9 per cent, increasing from 2.5 per cent in 2020. This remains an inequity which must be addressed,” Ms Jackson said.
The report can be accessed on the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website.