Generation Z Commence University: Choosing the Right Course

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2.1 million Australians (9% of the total population) are enrolled in formal study beyond the school classroom and 7.8 million Australians aged 25-64 have a post-secondary qualification which is 2 in 3 people (67%, up from 54% a decade ago).

2014 marks the first year of Generation Z, those born since 1995, entering university. They are the most digitally supplied, globally connected, and formally educated generation in history. They not only have more institutions to consider – from traditional universities to private colleges, but more ways to study – from on-campus to online, and more course options than ever before.

As these Gen Zs begin their university studies and many of Australia’s Gen Ys seek to further their current qualifications, McCrindle Research analyses ABS and Graduate Careers Australia data to compile lists of the best degrees.


Graduate earnings hit an all-time low in real terms


Three decades ago, the average graduate’s starting salary was the same as average full-time weekly earnings (average male full-time earnings). Therefore, when the Baby Boomers graduates were commencing their employment, the average 21 year-old bachelor-level graduates began their earning years on a salary equivalent the average full-time earner.

Graduate starting salaries have continued to lose ground against average weekly earnings and are now just over 77% of this benchmark.

Additionally, the variation in starting salaries across courses is massive, ranging from more than $64,000 (engineering) to $39,000 (pharmacy), while the average starting salary for a construction worker is $40,000 and for a factory worker is $42,000.


But degrees offer good earnings growth


The difference in starting salaries between those who enter the workforce without tertiary qualifications and those with a bachelor degree is negligible, but the motivating factor to pursue higher education remains. A senior salary for a factory worker is $63,000, for a construction worker it is $75,000, for a pharmacist it is $80,500, and for an engineer, $173,000.


Generation debt


There are more graduates than ever and at the same time more study debt than ever. The average HELP/HECS debt has increased from $10,600 in 2006 to $15,200 in 2012. There are currently almost 1.7 million Australians with a HECS debt, and the most common HECS debt owed (by more than a quarter of million HECS-debtors) is between $20,000 and $30,000. The total study debt owed to the Commonwealth is approach $30 billion, with most of this owed by Generation Y. It is estimated that up to 20% of this will never be repaid.

Generation Z will run up more study debt than any other generation in history. The challenge, as this analysis reveals, is that the majority of graduates in some of these course areas will accumulate a significant debt for a degree in a field in which they will never work. The mixed blessing for graduates in some of these courses is that they will not have to pay off their study debt for some time as the average starting salary is well below the current HECS-HELP repayment threshold of $51,309.


More graduates, less work


For the Builders generation (those aged in their late 60s), just 1 in 10 have a university degree. For the Baby Boomers (those in their 50s) this is 1 in 5, for Generation X (those in their 30s) it is 1 in 4, and for today’s Generation Ys (in their late 20s) 1 in 3 hold a tertiary qualification. Based on current trends for today’s school aged students, Generation Z, as many as 1 in 2 will likely end up with a university degree.

Yet while the proportions of Australians with university degrees continue to rise, the number of bachelor degree graduates who are able to secure work within 4 months of graduating is significantly decreasing, with 71% of bachelor-degree graduates able to secure full-time employment in 2013 compared to 76.1% in 2012 and 76.3% in 2011.

At the same time, the percentage of graduates in part-time or casual employment and looking for full-time work is increasing (18.1% in 2013 compared to 15.3% in 2012 and 14.9% in 2011), as is the percentage of students not working but looking for full-time employment (10.6% in 2013 up from 8.6% in 2012 and 8.7% in 2011).


Emerging careers


In order for today’s school leavers to combat the unprecedented choices they have in studying, they need to look to Australia’s economic, demographic, and technology future to make informed choices. Many Australians are employed in jobs today that didn’t exist a decade ago, and of the estimated 17 jobs that Gen Z will hold in their lifetime, some of these don’t currently exist.

In McCrindle Research’s national study, when Australians were asked to nominate which courses of study they felt will emerge over the next decade to accommodate growth areas and emerging careers, respondents focused predominantly on the digital age and health care.

Careers in information technology, computing science, digital media, online education, digital communication, and any other skills requiring computer technologies were seen to be on the rise, as were careers focusing on health and medicine, particularly in the provision of aged care health services. Australians also felt that the field of environmental science and research into renewable energies and resources would continue to increase in the decade ahead.


Top 4 ‘Future-Proofed’ Degrees


These degrees are often underrated and overlooked, yet turn out to offer the best graduate employment opportunities. More than 4 in 5 (80%) graduates from bachelor level study were available for full-time employment, and the vast majority of these were working in their field of study. Additionally, each of these top four courses delivered a salary above the national $50,000 graduate average.

Rank

Name of Course

Available for Full-time employment

Of those in full-time employment, % working in their field of study

Median starting salary

1.

Surveying

85%

90%

$52,000

2.

Urban/Regional Planning

81%

81%

$50,000

3.

Rehabilitation

80%

89%

$50,200

4.

Electrical Engineering

80%

76%

$60,000

Table 1: ‘Future-Proofed’ Degrees

Social researcher Mark McCrindle comments on Australia’s most underrated degrees, stating: “Australia’s population growth is creating the need for more homes than ever and the redevelopment of many existing urban centres. This planning and construction boom is creating great opportunities for graduates in relevant fields and has facilitated surveying, urban planning, and engineering to be rated in the Top 4 courses based on a combination of employment, earnings and analysis”.

“Additionally,” McCrindle says, “Australia’s ageing population is creating growth and opportunities in courses in the rehabilitation and health fields”.


Top 4 ‘Populist’ Degrees


These Top 4 “Populist” Degrees are those that are impacted by their own success. When the supply of undergraduates exceeds the demand on the employment side, many graduates end up either moving to further study rather than employment, working in a career in a different field to their course or commencing on salaries below the average graduate starting salary.

One of the most popular university subjects is Psychology (currently ranked 6th most popular in the world by Topuniversities.com) and in Australia it is also one of the most popular courses. The data below shows that only 40% of Psychology graduates are “career-ready” (available for full-time employment), and of graduates who are currently in full-time employment, only 63% are working in the field of psychology. In addition, those who are working full-time in their field start off with a median salary of $47,500, well below the average starting salary of $50,000.

Of all visual and performing arts graduates, just half of those employed are working in their field of study, and architecture offered one of the lowest graduate starting salaries.

Based on the above criteria (the percentage of graduates available for full-time employment, their employability in their field of study, and their median salary), here are the degrees which most fit this criteria:

Rank

Name of Course

Available for Full-time employment

Of those in full-time employment, % working in their field of study

Median starting salary

1.

Psychology

40%

63%

$47,500

2.

Architecture

42%

72%

$32,500

3.

Visual and Performing Arts

47%

52%

$38,000

4.

Social Sciences

49%

60%

$45,000

Table 2: Most ‘Populist’ Degrees

“Along with arts, law, and the social sciences, psychology has become a ‘generalist’ degree rather than an avenue to professional practice and the figures need to be seen in this light,” says Mark McCrindle.

“As a psychology graduate not working as a psychologist, I can understand the interest in the field and despite the statistics above, I know first-hand its benefits as a foundational degree,” he states.


Click here to download this social analysis:

Click here to download this file


Sources: McCrindle Research, Graduate Careers Australia, ABS Measures of Australia’s Progress, DEEWR Higher Education Reports, DIISRTE, Open Universities Australia.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare


Last 150 Articles


Tags

qualitative research friends Christmas research Assistant Store Manager shopping state donation university salary capital city student trend not for profit toys social commentator public speaking future proofing Channel Seven middle class Lower Hunter Region millennials community engagement financial teaching Territory litter data visualisation happiness mccrindle research analysis publication Australia Day 2017 Western Australia Valentine’s Day repayments Res Vis weather facts Real Estate weekly earnings car ashley mckenzie baby names christianity live the dream learner speakers pack states cultural diveristy earn January 26th faux-cilise office opening Jura Australia local communities global generations tuesday charity generations ferry finance Generation Y omnibus cica social commentary CPI baby names report Christmas presents Tasmania Mount Annan-Currant Hill 2016 census REIV Conference urban living Research Director mateship renter of the future generation Z demographic trends Lower Hunter mythbusting Vocational education wages professional presenters mccrinlde Sydney keynote speaker personal growth socialising Canberra media release vegemite food bank Wagga Wagga mentor statistics Queensland optus the changing face of Tuesday Trend authenticity South Australia Duchess of Cambridge quote Population Clock trends of 2017 wolloomooloo professional speaker baby click resilience unaffordable social shifts social media volunteering data keynote intern goals couple commuters program gen alpha environment World Water Day ipswich organisations property market growing population Christchurch dreams hills shire sydney hills national crime rates volunteer crime sector wide study investing change IT Specialists waverton slideshare engagement poker master teach long weekend the average aussie selfie living skills village meals infographic VIC Gen Z Expert teachers emerging generations culture hornsby new office Australian Communities Trends demographic business performance forecasting rent grandparents consumerism new york times SMART infographic wall domestic economy Australian communities generation alpha 2012 religion ageing population suburbs house ACT Report tattoos SRE huffington post technology Sydney’s south west employers presentation nativity scene recap mythbusters winter dessert younger generations holiday apartment high density apartments visualisation hello fresh global financial crisis ease of travel government Australians church high density going out entrepreneur presentations home owner world social life housing media commentary Australian demographics Performance Sentiment Index digital TAS Christmas in Australia Black Friday in Australia New Zeland February 16 conference mortgage divorce speakers language moderators guide thought leadership case study workplace 2016 data analyst wedding communications employmer the australian dream google millenials 2014 census results faux-cilising financial fears affordable graphs giving future donate 40 million online shopping optimistic socialites DESTEL baby names australia report area event researcher group Jura Coffee Business analysis innovation healthy future typical australian demographer happy holidays Mark McCrindle megatrends faux-ciliser Engineering Manager house price medicine average aussie relational high school staying in census social researchers cars debt Generation X emerging technologies apartments micro apartments global society marriages Northern Beaches Christian School wealth distribution ACF17 property development aged care Social Trend seasons greetings Northern Beaches marrickville who is generation z Australia street innovative stay home events divorce rate rising house prices sydney speaker financial planning storytelling wage English The ABC of XYZ society trends news Macquarie University social analysis financial future low density clothing Gen Y relevant coffee property the hills shire FPA Royals energy social research rental stress infographics eliane miles trend tuesday in depth interviews gen z group session suburban living owning a home Merry Christmas Retail affordability lalor park choice workers small business demographics vegetarian workforce anzac princess charlotte priorities cost of living baby boom Adelaide work mates future of work growth of sydney snapshot plans SA rise of local 1975 urban taskforce sydney property market housing growth future-proof alpha Sydney population faith australia daily telegraph housing market sentiments internship forum brand experience showreel mccrindle tea equip cancel plans volunteering blaxland wealth and income 2016 census results 24 million life ACF2017 sydneysider HSC housing affordability future of education population motivate population milestone community event research visualisation hobart retirement curiosity shbc employment balance Kirsten Brewer stats high density living education future report australian social research aussie culture Deaths year 12 office space norwest city communication bondi Australian Dream care support award annual income know the times Hills Shire Council educated social lives pharmacies award winner demography report spirituality NSW McCridle WA Education Future Forum video Willowdale conference presentation list lifestyle McCrindle Speaker earnings EFF criminal suburb wealth Real Estate Institute of Victoria Wellington What is food insecurity? trends analyst politics Cobbitty-Leppington home ownership hopes ACF income social issues Black Friday families 1994 residents cash names social impact manly insights brand prince george impact eliane Tuesday Trends safe Mark McCrindle in the media friendship financial dreams summer national wealth Christmas Stats school students Christmas data Elderslie-Harrington park not for profit research royal baby census 2016 rich 1968 capital cities parents media activity youth monarchy nfp screenage charities buildings research report millionth paying to work 10 years screenagers renting James Ward baby name trends collaboration learn trends of 2016 ACT gig economy Financial Planning Association cooking speajer spend property price community rain research on coffee geomapping Financial Planning Association of Australia media Sydney Lifestyle Study entertainment New South Wales keynote speaker Births research ultimo mover and shaker land of the middle class 1980 entrepreneurs of today System's Architect travelling public holiday McCrindle Keynote Speakers focus group royal family customer not-for-profit young people parenting Geoff Brailey NBRS Architecture emerging trends national private wealth product census fail outsourcing internships networking sydneysiders learning styles social trends education future tableau mother's day australians staying home more leadership workshop leadership investment volunteers food future proof poor changing face of sydney 2017 Melbourne The Daily Edition Australian schools bureau google for education baby name Christmas season sydney event acf15 earning teacher in the media baby boomers sydney market entrepreneurial FOMO non profit public speaker NFP event TED talk research services meetings the great screenage Work place ethnography perth gender panel daily commute Northern beaches Event futurist economic neutral bay house price rise generation real Wodonga TDE christmas christian interactive child care mccrindle in the media engage #censusfail 23 million proactive sustainable conferences christmas 2017 Research Executive kate middleton australian community trends report speaker Word Up ABS US challenge offenders average Australian 2013 ACF 2016 "know the times" pyrmont shopper's pick thrive TEDx education students teleworking men Caregiver fears transport trades visual Sydney post rationalism 2020 australian children pharmacy school satisfaction cold Aussies cartodb father's day Charlotte housing trends seasons TEDx Speaker generational trends ideas Christmas lunch deloitte Myth financial independence GPO jobs of the future resource home australian communities trends report coffee lovers potts point aged care puzzle newspaper royal influence responsive wellbeing education sector organisational culture survey Australia Day work from home the lucky country digital economy business index victoria Australian Home business NEETs NT water culturally diverse royal personalities Australian community trends Financial Planning Week easy rider average sydneysider professional development money market research TED crows nest Aussie social analyst communicate australian communities forum university degree schools students Australian Census workshop household gig staff Andrew Duffin urban living index contiki goal work-life census data local hunger optus my business awards shopping centre youth unemployment tertiary education greatness unemployment cost Love marketing Australian Trends internet mobile define bus etiquette professional services world youth day christmas trees train DIY education research Maxim Accounting young australians travel holidays commute office brands Skilling australian real estate Channel 7 focus groups wealth and income distribution micro cancelling event 2015 households fresh follow belief global retail tips population map Bathburst demographic transformations VET sector townhouses identity brisbane CBD social change VET Christmas day weather online JOMO Sydney Hills Business Chamber data darwin social researcher communities the hills tv winter blues moreton bay New Zealand school marriage local community experience mining boom sector wide training collaborative women purpose Hornsby Shire Council shifts participants study casual woolworths NBRS Do It Yourself debate supply and demand investor Crime Rates learning mccrindle tea social enquiry environmental scanning Scouts REIV National Conference consumer Black Friday Sales commuting dreaming hills celebration urban development baby name predictions forecast educhat SMSF public transport workplace culture conference speaker ashley fell survey design dream sydneycity work insight research pack overcast sports urban trends house prices population growth careers menai sun Christmas day gold coast Queensland: QLD professional wealth inequality narcissism growth grave decision schools chairty McCrindle Speakers story cloudy days sunny days cultural diversity career Northern Territory 24,000,000 Australian Families dare to dream year 7 research data leader breakfast Hunter Valley results rule keeper Australian Bureau of Statistics Kiwi family easter future of shopping sector employmee Netflix builders sunburnt country budget ageing Australian Population food insecurity Gen X social sydney metro cancelling plans PSI logan twentyseventeen increasing densification jobs

Archive