Education not preparing students for job market: research

Tuesday, 14 February, 2023

Education not preparing students for job market: research

Only 37% of young Australians feel very prepared by their education for the job market, according to new research from Qualtrics.

The research also shows that 25% of respondents were concerned about looking for a job, while 32% did not feel prepared to compete against other candidates.

Despite having reservations about feeling prepared for the job market, 89% of young Australians feel prepared to perform well once they are in employment.

The research was conducted by Qualtrics in support of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Forum Engagement Group on the Future of Work, which is focused on helping young people find professional opportunities, harness their skills and experience in a way that employers will value, and better understand their workplace expectations. It draws on insights from around 5000 young people between the ages of 19 and 24 living across six different OECD countries — including 500 in Australia — in 2022.

Facing challenging economic conditions, 37% of working respondents in Australia report being underemployed, meaning they are working part-time when they prefer to work full-time or are in a temporary position when they prefer a permanent position.

As the job market fluctuates and in-demand skills continue to change, education institutions play an important role in providing knowledge and training to help students search for a job, prepare to compete against other candidates and succeed in a position. However, current bachelor’s-level students and graduates felt less prepared to enter the workforce than their peers with less than bachelor’s-level college education or those with a graduate education.

Participation in work-based training, such as apprenticeships and job specific training, is the top driver of perceived job preparedness in Australia. However, while hands-on learning and job-specific training are the two most common programs respondents report being offered, internships and apprenticeships are the least common programs offered.

For young Australians there is an expectation that education institutions and governments should both play a role in preparing them for the transition between school and work. In particular, the majority expect education institutions to lead the way in giving advice on how and where to look for a job, while believing it’s the government’s responsibility to provide resources for education and training opportunities.

“When you consider talent shortages are often cited by leaders as one of the biggest obstacles to long-term success and Australia’s current skills gaps, ensuring young Australians feel prepared to enter the working world is now mission-critical. While it’s been encouraging to see increasing collaboration between government, academia and industry to equip all Australians with in-demand skills, the Qualtrics findings are an important reminder of the work still to do and the types of programs and initiatives that will have the biggest impact on our long-term success,” said Phillip Bland, Head of Government Strategy – ANZ, Qualtrics.

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