Employers in Australia are generally satisfied with the skills and knowledge of higher education graduates, with those in professional occupations scoring higher overall.
The largest ever survey of employers and employees on the quality of recent graduates also showed that overall, graduates across all fields of education were less likely than their supervisors to feel their qualification prepared them for their current job.
The Government-funded 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey (ESS) reports the views of more than 4000 employers of recent graduates from Australian higher education institutions.
In 2017, the overall satisfaction with graduates as rated by their direct supervisors was 84 per cent, slightly up from the first survey in 2016.
Employer satisfaction with foundation skills – general literacy, numeracy and communication skills and the ability to investigate and integrate knowledge – was 93 per cent, as was satisfaction with technical skills.
Collaborative skills scored less highly, with employers overall 86 per cent satisfied with teamwork and interpersonal skills. Employability skills – the ability to perform and innovate in the workplace – achieved 85 per cent satisfaction.
Employers of graduates working in professional occupations, reported significantly higher overall satisfaction 87 per cent, compared with those of graduates working in all other occupations.
Graduates tended to view their qualification as less important for their current employment than their supervisors. While a little over half of graduates, 56 per cent, considered their qualification to be ‘very important’ or ‘important’ to their current job, around 64 per cent of supervisors indicated the graduate’s qualification was ‘very important’ or ‘important’.
Minister for Education Simon Birmingham said the 2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey results were encouraging but also reinforced the need to ensure higher education institutions focused on the work readiness of graduates.
“Australia has excellent universities but they 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,” he said.
Mr Birmingham said the almost 10 per cent higher satisfaction levels for vocationally oriented courses over generalist courses were the type of signals universities should be heeding to align course offerings with the expectations of employers.
“Data such as this is vital in arming students with the necessary information on the performance of institutions and how courses are viewed by prospective employers to help them make more informed choices on what career paths to follow,” he said.