The Quality Indicators For Learning and Teaching (QILT) Graduate Outcomes Survey has been released.

Master Builders Australia's Senior Industry Policy Adviser Jennifer Lawrence says the Survey shines light on the employment and satisfaction outcomes for university graduates, of whom 131,780 graduates from 112 higher education institutions participated in the survey. Jen's analysis looks at the outcomes for graduates of undergraduate higher education qualifications in the fields relevant to building and construction – engineering, and architecture and built environment.

Civil engineering and building and construction graduates are more likely to be employed.

  • Civil engineering full-time employment rate in 2020 = 85.6%.
  • Building and construction full-time employment rate in 2020 = 87.6%.
  • Average full-time employment rate across all fields of study in 2020 = 68.7%.

In 2020, female graduates from civil engineering and building and construction fields of undergraduate study cracked the glass ceiling surpassing the starting wages of their male counterparts.

  • Civil engineering full-time starting wages: males = $67,880, females = $69,000.
  • Building and construction full-time starting wages: males = $65,200, females = $72,800.

Graduate Employment 

The full-time employment rate for graduates in 2020 was 68.7% – 3.5% lower than in 2019 and the second lowest result after 68.1% in 2014. COVID-19 was certainly a major contributing factor, however, as the survey notes graduate data was down across all three survey periods – November 2019, February 2020 and May 2020 – two of which pre-date the economic and social restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19. Full-time employment rates in two out of three fields of study relevant to the building and construction industry are higher than the 2020 average – civil construction (85.6%) and building and construction (87.6%). The full-time employment rate in 2020 for the field of architecture and urban environments was 10.0% below the average.

Graduate starting wages

Graduates employed full-time in 2020, earnt an average starting wage of $65,000 in 2020, an increase of $2,400 on 2019 starting wages (+3.8%). The average starting wage for full-time civil engineering graduates was $68,000 in 2020, an increase of $1,000 on 2019 (+1.5%). For building and construction graduates the starting wage was $70,000 in 2019 and 2020, and for architecture and urban environments graduates the starting wage was $60,000 up $5,000 on 2019 starting wages (+9.1%). The gender pay gap for full-time employed graduates across all areas of study shrunk from 4.6% ($3,000) in 2019 to 2.8% ($1,800) in 2020. Interestingly, female graduates of civil engineering and building and construction fields cracked the glass ceiling in 2020 with starting wages exceeding that of their male counterparts. Female graduates from architecture and urban environments closed the gender pay gap from 10.3% in 2019 to 3.2% in 2020. Longitudinal analysis comparing full-time wages in the first year following graduation (2017) with wages in the fourth year (2020) reveals that on average graduates employed full-time see an increase across all fields of study of 25.0%. Areas of study relevant to building and construction see an above average increase in wages from year 1 to year 4, ranging from 25.9% for architecture and the urban environment qualifications to 38.5% for building and construction qualifications.Longitudinal analysis across all fields of study shows that over time the gender pay gap increases. In the first year following graduation male graduates receive a wage 4.2% higher than females, by the fourth year after graduation this has increased to 8.6%. For engineering graduates the initial gender pay gap is minimal at 1.8% and narrows over time to 0.6%. For architecture and the built environment, on the other hand, the initial gender pay gap exceeds the average at 9.8% and is exacerbated over time reaching 16.5% by year four.

Graduate Satisfaction

Despite falling employment outcomes in 2020, satisfaction overall, with teaching and with generic skills increased from 2019 to 2020, as shown in the table below. Longitudinal data shows that as graduates gain experience in the workplace their assessment of the importance of their qualification to their employment reduces. In the first year post-graduation 59.6% of graduates reported that their qualification was important or very important to their employment. This drops to 53.8% after four years.Overall graduates feel that their education and qualification prepares them well or very well for employment (79.6%). Over time this remained relatively stable (78.6% after four years).In 2020, 28.1% of graduates employed full-time indicated that they were working in a job that did not allow them to fully use their skills or education. 20.6% of full-time employed engineering graduates reported that their skills and education were not fully utilised in their employment. This figure rises to 26.7% when graduates working part-time are added. 21.9% of full-time employed architecture graduates reported that their skills and education were not fully utilised in their employment. This rises to 35.7% when part-time workers are added. In comparison to the average across all areas of study, architecture and engineering graduates are less likely to report that their skills and education are not fully utilised. 

Ends...

Jennifer Lawrence

Senior Adviser - Industry Policy

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