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Students feel underprepared for competitive job market

New research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq:XM) shows that only 37% of young Australians feel very or extremely prepared by their education for the job market - with 25% citing concerns regarding looking for a job and 32% not feeling prepared to compete against other candidates.

Despite having reservations about feeling prepared for the job market, 89% of young Australians feel prepared to perform well once they are in employment.

The research was conducted by Qualtrics in support of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Forum Engagement Group on the Future of Work, which is focused on helping young people find professional opportunities, harness their skills and experience in a way that employers will value, and better understand their workplace expectations. It draws upon insights from around 5,000 young people between the ages of 19 and 24 living across six different OECD countries[1] - including 500 in Australia - in Spring 2022.

Facing challenging economic conditions, 37% of working respondents in Australia report being underemployed, meaning they are working part-time when they prefer to work full-time or are in a temporary position when they prefer a permanent position.

Apprenticeships and internships the missing link to better job preparedness

As the job market fluctuates and in demand skills continue to change, education institutions play an important role in providing knowledge and training to help students search for a job, prepare to compete against other candidates, and succeed in a position. However, current bachelor’s-level students and graduates felt less prepared to enter the workforce than their peers with less-than-bachelor’s level college education or those with a graduate education.

Participation in work-based training, such as apprenticeships and job specific training, is the top driver of perceived job preparedness in Australia. However, while hands-on learning and job-specific training are the two most-common programs respondents report being offered, internships and apprenticeships are the least common programs offered.

Young Australians expect education institutions and governments to help prepare them

For young Australians there is an expectation for education institutions and governments to both play a role in preparing them for the transition between school and work. In particular, the majority expect education institutions to lead the way in giving advice on how and where to look for a job, while believing it’s the government’s responsibility to provide resources for education and training opportunities.

“When you consider talent shortages are often cited by leaders as one of the biggest obstacles to long-term success and Australia’s current skills gaps, ensuring young Australians feel prepared to enter the working world is now mission critical. While it’s been encouraging to see increasing collaboration between government, academia, and industry to equip all Australians with in-demand skills, the Qualtrics findings are an important reminder of the work still to do and the types of programs and initiatives that will have the biggest impact on our long-term success,” said Phillip Bland, Head of Government Strategy - ANZ, Qualtrics.

“Taking the time to listen to students’ experiences entering the workforce and understanding the specific challenges they face can help government and education institutions create the right interventions that will help ensure this generation of young people does not get left behind,” said Qualtrics Head of Industry Advisory Dr. Sydney Heimbrock. “If we understand the real drivers of job preparedness, we can put resources toward education, apprenticeship and training programs that have the most impact.”

“Education should help young people accomplish their personal and professional goals,” said OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher. “If that’s not happening, we need to take a careful look at the transition from school to work to ensure students are prepared to excel and meet life’s challenges, not just in the classroom, but in the world of employment as well.” 

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