Do Australian applicants take note of skills shortages?

While international candidates are aware of specific skill shortages areas via DIAC and courses to suit outcomes, when will Australian students follow suit?

commenter Andrew Smith, 21 October

The answer to Andrew’s question is: already. Because we have university applications data by field of study we can track whether would-be students respond to labour market trends.

In looking at this issue, I classified courses as in-demand if they satisfied two conditions. First, they had to lead to occupations on the skills shortages list. Second, there had to be a tight graduate labour market, which I classified as 5% or less of recent graduates looking for work in the Graduate Destination Survey.

All the disciplines that satisfied these tests showed an increase in applications, while all other disciplines put together showed a decline: Continue reading “Do Australian applicants take note of skills shortages?”

Should there be a charter of rights referendum?

In the SMH, law academic George Williams rejects the idea that there should be a referendum on a charter of rights. He says that

Referendums are held to change the constitution, and have never been to approve an ordinary act of Parliament.

I’m not convinced by this point. The Australian constitutional system is much more than just the formal document called the Constitution. It includes all the laws, conventions and judicial decisions that establish and set out the relationships between the key institutions of government.

In this broader sense of a constitutional system, a charter of rights is an important change in the relationship between the executive and the judiciary, and represents a major shift in how the rest of us consider issues covered by the charter. The substantive rights and wrongs of various issues will become secondary to the legal arguments for and against, which are often much harder for ordinary citizens to understand. The judicial decisions made are likely to lead to conclusions which majorities do not support.

In this context, a referendum is not a silly idea. It’s not like having a vote on an ETS, as Williams suggests, or any of the other issues parliament considers each year. It’s about the rules of the political game, about who gets to decide what. It is a constitutional question, even if not an amendment to the Constitution.