FROM PLUTO SITE OVERLOOKING GAS PLANT  Margaret Bertling SITE PICS Karratha  0409-115-027
FROM PLUTO SITE OVERLOOKING GAS PLANT Margaret Bertling SITE PICS Karratha 0409-115-027

The global financial crisis has blown a hole in the job chances of university graduates, with thousands out of work months after finishing their degrees.

A survey of 174,000 recent graduates also revealed the high wages promised by university degrees had been hit by the events of 2008-09.

The annual Graduate Careers Australia survey, conducted since 1999, tracks the employment prospects of graduates soon after they complete their degrees.

For those who finished at the end of 2011, 76.1 per cent of graduates had full-time work within four months.

Although in line with the previous year, it was well short of the 85.2 per cent of people who completed their degrees at the end of 2007. The GFC hit the global economy in the second half of 2008.

Some of those not getting full-time work have chased part-time or casual employment, with the proportion now at 15.3 per cent.

It was 9.6 per cent in the 2008 survey.

There were 8.6 per cent of graduates still looking for work of any kind four months after finishing university - in line with the previous year but well up on the 5.2 per cent in 2008.

All of this has had a knock-on effect on wages.

The current crop of graduates enjoyed a median wage of $52,000, compared with $50,000 in last year's survey.

This equated to 77.8 per cent of the average weekly wage.

Pre-GFC, the median wage for graduates was $48,000, or 83 per cent of the average weekly wage.

Some sectors have defied the overall downward trend in employment.

Those with degrees in civil engineering, mining, surveying, pharmacy and medicine all had full-time employment rates above 90 per cent. Many were in line with their pre-GFC averages.

But falls of more than 10 percentage points were recorded in architecture, planning, languages, chemistry, veterinary science and some forms of education. Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans focused on the high proportion of medicine and mining-related graduates getting work.

"The Gillard Government has invested in ensuring we don't just boost enrolments in our universities, but that we boost completions," he said.

"We know that a university education is a ticket to high-skilled and high-paid jobs and we're determined to give more Australians the opportunity to share in our prosperity."

The West Australian

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