Skip to main content

Factors influencing job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates: evidence from Australia

Abstract

Favourable graduate employment outcomes are critical for future enrolments in higher education. Enrolments fund higher education providers and ensure a continuous supply of graduates to enhance organisational effectiveness, national productivity and global competitiveness. Recent evidence suggests the global financial crisis has softened graduate labour markets. Stakeholder concerns for graduate career prospects and the adequacy of return on investment from studying at university prompt exploration of those factors which influence graduate employment outcomes. This study tests, using logistic regression, a model of job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates of Australian higher education providers using national data gathered in 2011 (n = 28,246) and 2012 (n = 28,009). Findings indicate employer selection criteria broadly align with our understanding of what constitutes graduate employability, including technical expertise, generic skill mastery and a successfully formed graduate identity. Labour market opportunities, however, are not based on merit alone with employers favouring those graduating from prestigious universities, part-time students and whose study incorporated elements of on-campus learning. There were also noted variations by discipline, age and residency status. The study enhances our understanding of which factors influence graduate employment outcomes and discusses implications for relevant stakeholders.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Accenture. (2013). College graduate employment survey. US: Accenture.

    Google Scholar 

  • Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education. Newburyport, MA: Sloan Consortium.

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Association of Graduate Employers [AAGE]. (2012). 2012 AAGE employer survey. Sydney: AAGE.

    Google Scholar 

  • Australian Bureau Statistics. (2010). Education and training experience 2009, Cat. 6278.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

  • Bourner, T., & Millican, J. (2011). Student-community engagement and graduate employability. Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 13(2), 68–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brennan, J., & Shah, T. (2003). Access to what? Converting educational opportunity into employment opportunity. London: CHERI.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bridgstock, R. (2009). The graduate attributes we’ve overlooked: Enhancing graduate employability through career management skills. Higher Education Research and Development, 28(1), 31–44.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, R. (2012). Evaluating the impact of placements on employability. In Employability, enterprise and citizenship in higher education conference 2012, 27 March 2012. Manchester Metropolitan University.

  • Brown, P., & Hesketh, A. (2004). The mismanagement of talent. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Carroll, D., & Tani, M. (2013). Over-education of recent higher education graduates: New Australian panel evidence. Economics of Education Review, 32(1), 207–218.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chan, D. (2009). So why ask me? Are self-report data really that bad? In C. E. Lance & R. J. Vandenberg (Eds.), Statistical and methodological myths and urban legends: Doctrine, verity and fable in the organizational and social sciences (pp. 309–335). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coates, H., & Edwards, D. (2009). The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coates, H., & Edwards, D. (2011). The Graduate Pathways Survey: New insights on education and employment outcomes five years after Bachelor degree completion. Higher Education Quarterly, 65(1), 74–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cole, M., Feild, H., Giles, W., & Harris, S. (2009). Recruiters’ inferences of applicant personality based on résumé screening: Do paper people have a personality? Journal of Business and Psychology, 24(1), 5–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Confederation of British Industry [CBI]. (2011). Building for growth: Business priorities for education and skills—education and skills survey 2011. London: CBI.

    Google Scholar 

  • Corcoran, J., Stimson, R., & Li, T. (2011). Locational patterns of new graduate employment and regional economic performance in Australia. International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, 7(1/2/3), 44–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dacre Pool, L., & Sewell, P. (2007). The key to employability developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education and Training, 49(4), 277–289.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eby, L., Butts, M., & Lockwood, A. (2003). Predictors of success in the era of the boundary less career. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24(6), 689–708.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Glover, D., Law, S., & Youngman, A. (2002). Graduateness and employability: Student perceptions of the personal outcomes of university education. Research in Post-Compulsory Education, 7(3), 293–306.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gonyea, R. (2005). Self-reported data in institutional research: Review and recommendations. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2005(127), 73–89.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Graduate Careers Australia. (2013a). AGS 2012: Added and derived variables. Melbourne: GCA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Graduate Careers Australia. (2013b). Beyond graduation 2012. Melbourne: GCA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Graduate Careers Australia [GCA]. (2012a). Graduate course experience 2011. Melbourne: GCA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Graduate Careers Australia [GCA]. (2012b). GradStats: Employment and salary outcomes of recent higher education graduates. Melbourne: GCA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hair, J., Black, W., Babin, B., & Anderson, R. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: A global perspective. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hillage, J., & Pollard, E. (1998). Employability: Developing a framework for policy analysis. Research Report No. 85, Institute for Employment Studies. Sudbury: DfEE Publications.

  • Holmes, L. (2013). Competing perspectives on graduate employability: Possession, position or process? Studies in Higher Education, 38(4), 538–554.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson, D. (2013a). Business graduate employability—Where are we going wrong? Higher Education Research and Development, 32(5), 776–790.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jackson, D. (2013b). Self-assessment of employability skill outcomes among undergraduates and alignment with academic ratings. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02602938.2013.792107.

  • Jackson, D., & Chapman, E. (2012). Non-technical competencies in undergraduate Business degree programs: Australian and UK perspectives. Studies in Higher Education, 37(5), 541–567.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jensen, K. (2009). Why work experience matters! Real prospects 2009 graduates’ experiences of placements, internships and work experience. Manchester: Higher Education Career Services Unit.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knight, P., ESECT, et al. (2003). Briefings on employability 3: The contribution of LTA and other curriculum projects to student employability. York: HEA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Krug, G., & Rebien, M. (2011). Job search via social networks: An analysis of monetary and nonmonetary returns for low-skilled unemployed. IAB, Discussion Paper No. 201123.

  • Kumar, A. (2007). Personal, academic and career development in higher education—SOARing to success. London, New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lauder, H., Brown, P., Dillabough, J., & Halsey, A. (2006). Introduction: The prospects for education: Individualization, globalization, and social change. In H. Lauder, P. Brown, J.-A. Dillabough, & A. H. Halsey (Eds.), Education, globalization and social change (pp. 1–70). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Li, I., & Miller, P. (2013). The absorption of recent graduates into the Australian labour market: Variations by university attended and field of study. Australian Economic Review, 46(1), 14–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lowden, K., Hall, S., Elliot, D., & Lewin, J. (2011). Employers’ perceptions of the employability of new graduates. London: Edge Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mason, G., Williams, G., & Cranmer, S. (2006). Employability skills initiatives in higher education: What effects do they have on graduate labour market outcomes?. London: National Institute of Social and Economic Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mayston, D. (2002). Evaluating the benefits of career guidance. Derby: Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKeown, T., & Lindorff, M. (2011). The graduate job search process—A lesson in persistence rather than good career management? Education+. Training, 53(4), 310–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nair, C., & Shah, M. (2011). Developing an effective student feedback and improvement system: Exemplars with proven success. AUQA Occasional Publications Series 113.

  • National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE]. (2012). Job outlook report. Bethlehem, PA: NACE.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nicholson, L., Putwain, D., Connors, L., & Hornby-Atkinson, P. (2013). The key to successful achievement as an undergraduate student: Confidence and realistic expectations? Studies in Higher Education, 38(2), 285–298.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norton, A. (2012). Higher education tuition subsidies: An unnecessary public expense? The APCET Journal for Private Education, 1(2), 10–14.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oliver, D. (2011). University student employment and expectations of the graduate labour market. Journal of Industrial Relations, 53(1), 123–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oliver, B. (2013). Graduate attributes as a focus for institution-wide curriculum renewal: Innovations and challenges. Higher Education Research and Development, 32(3), 450–463.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2002). Rethinking human capital. Paris: OECD.

    Google Scholar 

  • Paul, P., Pennell, M., & Lemeshow, S. (2013). Standardizing the power of the Hosmer–Lemeshow goodness of fit test in large data sets. Statistics in Medicine, 32(1), 67–80.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S., & Lawton, R. (2012). Pedagogy for employability. York: HEA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Prentice, M., & Robinson, G. (2010). Improving student learning outcomes with service learning (pp. 1–16). Washington, DC: American Association of Community Colleges.

    Google Scholar 

  • Purcell, K., Wilton, N., & Elias, P. (2007). Hard lessons for lifelong learners? Age and experience in the graduate labour market. Higher Education Quarterly, 61(1), 57–82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Purcell, K., Elias, P., Atfield, G., Behle, H., Ellison, R., & Luchinskaya, D. (2013). Transitions into employment, further study and other outcomes. Warwick: Warwick Institute of Employment Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ramakrishnan, K., & Yasin, N. (2012). Employment issues among Malaysian information and communication technology (ICT) graduates: A case study. African Journal of Business Management, 6(16), 5615–5621.

    Google Scholar 

  • Riddell, S., Edward, S., Weedon, E., & Ahlgren, L. (2010). Disability, skills and employment: A review of recent statistics and literature on policy and initiatives. Manchester: Equality and Human Rights Commission.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ross, J. (2012). $3bn hit to economy as foreign students slump. The Australian.

  • Roy Morgan Research. (2009). Year 12 choices: A survey of factors influencing year 12 decision-making on post-school destination, choice of university and preferred subject. Canberra: Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schwartz, D., Bransford, J., & Sears, D. (2005). Efficiency and innovation in transfer. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sitzmann, T., Ely, K., Brown, K., & Bauer, K. (2010). Self-assessment of knowledge: A cognitive learning or affective measure? Academy of Management Learning and Education, 9(2), 169–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, J., McKnight, A., & Naylor, R. (2000). Graduate employability: Policy and performance in higher education in the UK. Economic Journal, 110(June), F383–F411.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tabachnick, B., & Fiddell, L. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ward, L., McAdie, T., Bravington, A., & King, N. (2012). The process of designing and analysing a qualitative study into multiple work integrated learning experiences. In 2012 Australian collaborative education network national conference (pp. 302–306).

  • Watts, A. (2005). Career guidance policy: An international review. Career Development Quarterly, 28(1), 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Webster, J., Castano, C., & Palmen, R. (2011). Special issue: Editorial. International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology, 3(2), 358–362.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wilton, N. (2011). Do employability skills really matter in the UK graduate labour market? The case of business and management graduates. Work Employment Society, 25(1), 85–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilton, N. (2012). The impact of work placements on skill development and career outcomes for business and management graduates. Studies in Higher Education, 37(5), 603–620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Denise Jackson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jackson, D. Factors influencing job attainment in recent Bachelor graduates: evidence from Australia. High Educ 68, 135–153 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-013-9696-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-013-9696-7

Keywords

  • Graduate
  • Job attainment
  • Employment factors
  • Australia
  • Employability