Is this the Golden Age for Graduates?

Record Job Vacancies and non-existent skills migration has put power back into the hands of the employee.

 The Great Resignation, a trend that has gripped America, is finding it just as hard as Novak Djokovic to arrive and stay on the shores of Australia.

As the pandemic prompted a revolutionary shift in the way we work, employees across the globe have started asking the big questions and in doing so have slightly dragged the balance of power towards the worker.

Do I need to live near the city? Do I need to remain in an industry that I have no passion for? Is this the happiest I can be? 

A survey conducted by Microsoft of over 30,000 workers across 31 countries found that 40% of respondents were thinking of quitting their jobs in 2021.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68.9 million workers quit their job in 2021, which works out to be 21% of the population (of course some workers may have quit their jobs multiple times throughout the year).

The phenomenon has also been dubbed the Great Reimagination or the Great Reset. A period of slowdown has prompted workers to reflect and “take control of their work and personal life” according to organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz who believes now is “a moment of empowerment for workers”.

But to what extent has this revolution taken place in Australia?

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg last week announced that Australia is experiencing a “Great Reshuffle” with the rate at which people have been taking up new jobs being 10% higher than the pre-covid average. The payroll data from Treasury suggests that people who have moved jobs have experienced an 8-10% pay rise on average.

Job vacancies have increased 74% from February 2020 to November 2021 but are they in the industries that graduates care about?

The table below aims to answer that question.

IndustryYoY Vacancy Growth
Information Media & Telecommunications74%
Financial & Insurance Services33%
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services58%
Arts & Recreation516% (not a typo)

There has been significant vacancy growth across the board and the economy hasn’t even entirely opened up yet. International tourism is still out of action, the cities are like ghost towns with hesitancy causing a self-imposed lockdown and last but not least one of our states is still yet to open its borders to anyone.

Despite all the doom and gloom, workers can rejoice that YoY wage growth has picked up again to 2.2% for the September quarter and even better news for soon to be graduates is that the Professional, Scientific & Technical Services Industry was the biggest contributor, with wages in the sector growing by 3.4% over the same period.

These numbers are great but can they be a bit more specific to graduates?

While it is hard to get exact readings on what the opening up of the economy will mean for graduates and students in general, the 2021 Graduate Survey has shown some promising results and has certainly made me feel better about taking on tens of thousands in HECS.

The survey was completed by 127,000 graduates, and for the most part, conditions have improved since 2020 and 2021.

The full-time Graduate Employment rate has increased from 68.7% to 68.9%, while the median salary has climbed from $64,700 in 2020 to $65,000 in 2021.

QILT, the organisation that runs the survey, also found that 9 out 10 respondents have been able to find a job within 3 years of graduating, despite the challenging circumstances.

While Australia hasn’t experienced a Great Resignation on the same scale as America has, the job market for budding graduates and university students is showing considerable promise given the recent turmoil. So start this year knowing that your future should look a lot better than the past two years.