Archive for the 'Employment & work' Category

Does anyone want to replace me?

The ad for my University of Melbourne job is here.

And the ad for the Policy editor job is here.

My new job

After more than 11 years working for the CIS and the University of Melbourne I have a new job. From the middle of next month I will take up a position at the Grattan Institute, directing their new higher education program. The Grattan media release is here.

CIS and U of M are both great places to work, but I’ve long wanted to do more research and writing on higher education than I could with my current jobs. I’ve always had many more ideas for papers than I have had time in the week. Grattan offered me the opportunity to write those papers, and without having to leave Carlton. My new office is about a block away from my Melbourne University office, and a few blocks from where I live.

Meanwhile, I have one last issue of Policy to finish off.

Is an arts degree a good financial investment?

Last week I spoke at a seminar on the public funding of the humanities and social sciences. In my presentation I showed a slide of the earnings of male arts bachelor degree graduates compared to all graduates, showing that the median male arts graduate earned significantly less than other bachelor graduates (less than the slide suggests, since I did not extract arts graduates from the total).

What I should also have done is added median earnings for the upper vocational qualifications, which I have now done in the figure below (due to limitations in the way the ABS publishes census data, I have taken median as the mid-point in the income catgory in which the median person appears). Overall it shows a quite similar earnings profile with the arts graduates, with the effects of earlier full-time workforce entry showing in the higher earnings for certificate III/IV qualified workers in their 20s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why aren’t graduates more satisfied with their jobs?

The paper on over-skilling also reports various forms of job satisfaction by qualification level. Counter-intuitively, though many people do a university degree to get a better job, they are less likely to score highly (9 or 10 on a 10 point scale) on most dimensions of job satisfaction than people with other qualifications.

Even on pay, where objectively graduates earn much more on average than people with other qualifications levels, graduates do not have the greatest levels of high satisfaction.



Are graduate jobs not so good after all? Or do graduates’ expectations increase in ways that the real world can rarely match? The options are not mutually exclusive, but I was reminded of Michael Dockery’s research showing that happiness decreases as people move from school/uni into the workforce. For people who are academically inclined, maybe many are never again so well matched with their circumstances as when they are studying.

Over-education vs over-skilling

As regular readers know, I have long been interested in graduate over-education – graduates who have jobs that typically require lesser qualifications. Using ABS definitions of jobs that normally require university education or equivalent experience, about three-quarters of graduates are appropriately matched with their jobs and about a quarter are over-educated.

However the significance of this has always been open to interpretation, given that some degrees are not taken for vocational reasons, some people may be happy with their jobs, or the situation could be temporary. And we would always expect some level of mismatch so it is hard to know what the benchmark figure for ‘too high’ should be.

A recent study by Kostas Mavromaras and colleagues, using HILDA data, looks at this issue in more depth. It uses a different definition of over-education, that the person has more education than the modal level of education in their job. Among full-time employees, they find 13% over-education among graduates – about half the ABS figure (though to what extent this is due to excluding part-timers, and what extent due to classifying FT jobs differently, I can’t say). Read the rest of this entry »

Social mobility in Australia

According to the SMH version of a Smith Family report on opportunity in Australia, ‘some degree of intergenerational mobility exists’.

Actually, it shows that quite a lot of integenerational mobility exists.

Consider this figure from the report showing the occupations of persons aged 30-44 in 2008 (my generation, just) compared to the occupation of their father when the child was 14 (mother where father not present). Except for managers and professionals, most children are in a different occupational category to their father.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dubious ideas submitted to the higher education funding review, part 1

With submissions to the higher education base funding review due on Thursday, some organisations are starting to put their ideas out into the media. I thought I would start an occasional series on dubious proposals made to the review (though I suppose this is just a more specific version of what this blog has been about since it started).

Behind the AFR‘s paywall is a story about the Australian Technology Network’s submission. They are suggesting that graduates who work in areas of skills shortage get a discount on their HELP debt repayments.

But generally where there are skills shortages the market deals with financial incentives: the pay goes up. And why should taxpayers rather than employers fork out when staff get more expensive?

The only example given is a rather sexist one, that female engineers should be given an added incentive to stay in the profession. The Beyond Graduation survey, of graduates three years out, found that engineering graduates were already earning good money (median salary $75,000) and had the second highest rate of income growth since their first job (63%). If there is a problem with women in engineering, I doubt it is money. A female engineering graduate isn’t likely to earn more doing something else. Read the rest of this entry »

No progress to graduate target

The latest issue of ABS Education and Work suggests that maybe we have headed slightly backwards on our way to the government’s target of 40% of 25-34 year olds having degrees. From 34.6% last year the ABS finds 34.2% this year. But the differences aren’t statistically significant.

On the other hand, there is one factor that might slow growth a little. In 2003, the government announced that it was going to penalise universities that ‘over-enrolled’ too much. This flowed through to slightly lower commencements in subsequent years, and a small drop in completions 2006-2008. Combine that with a slight increase in the size of the relevant age cohorts and it’s likely that we have some slightly less educated birth years now reaching the 25-34 age group (assuming they did not take advantage of renewed growth in places later).

Against this migration would be pushing the numbers up – due to migration criteria permanent migrants aged 25-34 are more educated than Australian-born people of the same age.

Education and Work also shows essentially no change in graduate over-qualification from 2009 – 27.4% last year, 27% this year. Graduate unemployment fell from 3.4% to 2.5%.

Over-qualification and migrants

An AMP-NATSEM report on migration released today included this figure on a long-term theme of mine, the employment outcomes of graduates:

In response to my claims that over-qualification is significant among graduates, Bob Birrell has said that the figures are distorted by the large number of over-qualified migrants. The numbers in this figure shows that this is a factor for migrants from non-English speaking countries. Read the rest of this entry »

Before and after

Before WorkChoices repealed: sackings fall to lowest recorded levels. Unions condemn lack of unfair dismissal laws.

After WorkChoices repealed: ‘Fair’ Work legislation confirmed as requiring employers to sack student workers because school hours and store closing times leave only short shifts. Unions applaud decision.