'The Great Resignation' impact on graduate employability

By Katherine Underwood on November, 19 2021

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Katherine Underwood

Katherine is a relationship management specialist and works closely with Readygrad’s Education provider partners. With a background in growing key accounts and distribution networks in the Asia-Pacific region as well as Europe, she is passionate about developing long-term partnerships with like-minded organisations.

With headlines worldwide about 'The Great Resignation,' the impact of the pandemic on the jobs market has become a global conversation. These disruptions are being felt particularly strongly in Australia, where closed borders have squeezed skilled immigration, and lockdown disruptions have triggered emigration.  

The National Skills Commission's October Vacancy report shows some 250,900 vacancies to be filled across the country. Professional roles are advertised up 53.1% since last year, and job advertisements are at a 13 year high.  

At a glance, it would appear to be an extremely favourable landscape for new graduates, with opportunity abound and reduced competition. However, employers are also reporting a talent and skills shortage, highlighting a disconnect between roles available and the candidates who apply for them.

In fact, 59% of employers surveyed reported experiencing recruiting difficulties for skilled roles, with that figure only rising outside capital cities. In addition to the lack of candidates, employers cited the unsuitability of applicants.

Even before the pandemic, there had been concern about Australia's skills gap, with PwC reporting that 75% of Australia's CEOs were concerned about the availability of key skills in 2018.

So, how can universities help new graduates or soon-to-be graduates bridge this gap and enter the graduate workforce?

Outside core academic curricula, 'micro-credentials' are flexible and agile ways of upskilling students with short, competency-driven courses or experiential programmes. Such short courses can run alongside and complement a student's degree. For example, an internship is a great way of providing a student opportunity to gain skills directly from a corporate or industrial setting.  

Furthermore, connecting with external organisations and companies provides universities with insight into current industry needs, allowing them to identify gaps and assess trends.

As stability begins to return and immigration rates rise, we will see greater numbers of applicants for skilled roles. However, there is no easy fix for Australia's skills shortage. 

Connecting with local business and industry partners will provide valuable insight which can inform universities' skills-based training.

Suppose this can be coupled with work experience for students. In that case, universities can create new career pathways, directly addressing industry needs and creating an efficient transition for students at the same time.


If you’d like help improving your employability offering or if you have any comments on this article or other ideas, we’d love to hear them. You can submit your comments below or contact: katherine.underwood@readygrad.com.au.

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