Written Report

Challenges facing students for employment after finishing University

There are many challenges facing students after studying.  The major one being able to find full time employment after completing University as this is not always easy.  The downturn in the economy, having previous work experience and sometimes relocating are some of the main factors that challenge students in finding employment.

Downturn in the Economy

Graduates find that the sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment of the global financial situation a challenge when looking for a job.  During the slowdown of the economic cycle, graduates will suffer because the job market is inundated with job seekers who possess higher levels of experience.  Regrettably throughout these times trying to gain experience is difficult because there are fewer paid training opportunities and internships.

Universities within Australia have more than one million students enrolled. (Birmingham (2015), (Deloitte Access Economics (Nov 2015). With not enough professional jobs in the market some unemployment of graduates is inevitable.  The best career advice is to know your job, maintain network and industry contacts, create a super LinkedIn profile, look at small as well as big companies join associations and find out about as much as you can about organizations, volunteer and above all be patient, persevere and be confident.

The Job Market and Qualifications

Diplomas and degrees are not automatic tickets to hasten a career in the job market.  Employers prefer graduates to have a broad range of experiences, skills as well as good qualifications. (Kinash, Crane, Judd, Knight & Dowling (2015). (Richardson, Bennett & Roberts, 2016) sited that employers look for:

  • Specific skills and knowledge
  • Professionalism and good work ethics
  • Experience – with good track records
  • Good communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Enthusiasm / motivation / passion
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Team Work skills
  • Leadership and Problem Solving skills

Some of these experiences can come from doing extracurricular activities and volunteer work. (Kinash, Crane, Judd, Knight, & Dowling (2015). Studies have shown that undertaking paid work in the final year of study is also a very important factor for a graduate to find work.

Lack of Real World Experience and Work Experience

The majority of bachelor degree graduates are young, aged less than 25 and they find it hard to get employment.  Some employers prefer to hire those with general or specific work experience leaving this majority of graduates finding work difficult.  They may take a few years to find full-time work. A study on Graduate Careers in Australia (GCA, 2015) has found that students who worked during their final year of their degree were more likely to find employment immediately than those who did not work, indicating that employers prefer to employ those with current work experience. Some companies will also keep their placements on in full time employment.

Students need to have a significant responsibility in knowing and understanding what employers want. On the job training is the best way to get that understanding.  Students really need to work while they are studying otherwise if they leave it to their last semester to begin to plan and try to find work may not get what they want and be in for a shock and often unwelcome realization that they should have planned earlier. Some students have expressed that they have been frustrated at the employers’ requirement for ‘work experience’ when they have just finished university. These students didn’t work during the course study. (Richardson, Bennett, & Roberts (2016) Most employers expect graduates to have work experience. 

Some Universities require students to undertake Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs so that they might be able to increase their employability skills through their relevant employment experience. This will help meet the requirements of employers for graduates to be work ready.  Several employers describe some graduates who have undertaken WIL as only having cognitive skills and not the capacity to ‘intelligently apply that knowledge in the work setting.’ (McLenan & Keating (2008), (Oliver (2015). There is a concern that lifelong learning skills necessary for graduate’s careers are not found in the present undergraduate programs. (Banadaranaike, Willision (2014). The majority of employers have a view that personality types and social skills are more important than their degree qualification. (Archer and Davison, 2008). Employers also state that graduates need to possess a broad-based experience, and can articulate and identify their own personal identity.

Relocation - life style adjustment

Current employment opportunities are tough.  In some cases, getting the first job often means relocation from family and friends.  Some graduates may experience feelings of isolation and struggle to find the proper balance between their careers, family and social obligations. Large companies have offices in major cities across Australia.  During the first year graduates would be expected to move between these offices to gain experience and exposure to different work undertaken in these offices.  Other large companies may expect you to relocate overseas.   Skill shortages in regional towns and smaller communities also mean that there are more opportunities in these areas.  Some businesses offer incentives to encourage people to move like relocation costs.

As a result, students can have control over some of these aspects like doing an internship while studying. Careful planning, joining in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, getting to know educators and their career development personnel, networking and developing professional and social contacts. These may facilitate students finding the end result of employment in their profession.  However, the single most important factor is the student undertaking paid work in their final year, predicting whether a student is able to find work within a few months after graduation.



Archer, W., & Davison, J. (2008). Graduate Employability: What do employers think and want? The Council for Industry and Higher Education, London.  Retrieved from http://aces.shu.ac.uk/employability/resources/0802grademployability.pdf


Banadaranaike, S., Willision, J., (2014) Boosting Graduate Employability: Bridging the Cognitive and Affective Domains



Birmingham, Simon the Hon Senator Minister for Education and Training.  Record number of students in higher education (2015).

Retrieved from https://ministers.education.gov.au/birmingham/record-number-students-higher-education-2015



Deloitte Access Economics (Nov 2015) Retrieved from http://www.deloitteaccesseconomics.com.au/


Kinash, S., Crane, L., Judd, M., Knight, C., & Dowling, D. (2015) What students and graduates need to know about graduate employability: Lessons from National OLT research. Higher Education     Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference. Melbourne. Jul. 2015

doi: 10.1080/03075079.2011.587140.


McLennan, B. & Keating, S. (2008).  Work-integrated learning [WIL] Australian Universities: the challenges of mainstreaming WIL. ALTIC NAGCAS National Symposium, Melbourne.


Oliver, B. (2015). Redefining graduate employability and work integrated learning: Proposals for effective higher education in disrupted economies. Journal of Teaching and

Learning for Graduate Employability, 6 (1), 56-65.



Oliver, B, L Hunt, S Jones, A Pearce, S Hammer. -The Graduate Employability Indicators: capturing broader stakeholder perspectives on the achievement and importance of employability attributes. –Proceedings of AuQF2010: Quality in Uncertain Times, 2010. Pages 89-95

Retrieved from https://eprints.usq.edu.au/8273/3/Oliver_Hunt_Jones_etal_AQF2010_PV.pdf


Richardson, Sarah; Bennett, Dawn; and Roberts, Lynne, "Investigating the Relationship between Equity and Graduate Outcomes in Australia" (2016).
Retrieved from http://research.acer.edu.au/higher_education/47