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Education & Work: Higher Education Graduates in the Labour Market
PEOPLE WITH HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATIONS AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION
PEOPLE WITH HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATIONS AS A PROPORTION OF AGE GROUPS - 2001
About one in five (21%) people aged 25-29 years held a higher education qualification in 2001, greater than for any other age group. The proportion of people with higher education qualifications decreased with age, to 9% of people aged 60-64 years. The proportion of young people aged 20-24 years with higher education qualifications (12%) was relatively low, as many people in this age group are still studying.
The proportion of people with a higher education qualification varied widely across Australia, from 12% in Tasmania to 31% in the Australian Capital Territory. The high proportion of people with such qualifications in the ACT (almost twice the national figure) carried across all age groups. This partly reflects the industry base in the ACT, where there is a predominance of higher-skilled occupations.
UNEMPLOYMENT RATES(a) FOR PEOPLE AGED 20-64 YEARS
LABOUR MARKET OUTCOMES
Through the two decades to 2003, the unemployment rate for people aged 20-64 years with higher education qualifications was lower than that of people without such qualifications (3% and 6% respectively in May 2003). People with higher education qualifications were also less vulnerable to unemployment during the economic downturn of the early 1990s, when the unemployment rate for people without higher education qualifications increased more rapidly and to a greater extent. Further, the median duration of unemployment for people with higher education qualifications (13 weeks) was much shorter than for those without (18 weeks) in 2003.
In 2003, across all age groups, people with higher education qualifications had lower unemployment rates than those without such qualifications. However, the difference was greatest among people aged 25-34 years (3% compared with 7% for those without higher education qualifications). Although the overall unemployment rate was higher in 2003 for women aged 20-64 years than for men of the same age (6% compared with 5%), women with higher education qualifications were less likely to be unemployed than their male counterparts (3% and 4% respectively).
People with higher education qualifications were more likely to work in higher skill occupations than those without. In 2003, four out of five employed people with higher education qualifications worked as Professionals (59%), Associate professionals (12%) or Managers and administrators (11%). These occupations accounted for 82% of workers with higher education qualifications, compared with 28% of those without.
In 2003, employed people aged 20-64 years with higher education qualifications were concentrated in a small number of industries. They represented 23% of workers overall, but 61% of those in the Education sector. This reflects the predominance of people working in this sector in occupations which are classified as higher skill (74%). Other industries employing a high proportion of people with higher education qualifications included Health and community services (38%) and Property and business services (35%).
In 2001, the median gross weekly income of people aged 20-64 years who had higher education qualifications and who were employed full-time was $1,036. This was almost 50% more than that of full-time workers without higher education qualifications ($727 per week). In 2001, people with higher education qualifications represented about one quarter (22%) of people employed full-time, but almost three-quarters (70%) of those in the highest income bracket ($1,500 or more per week) and less than one-fifth (19%) of people in the lowest income bracket ($300-$399 per week).
PEOPLE WITH HIGHER EDUCATION QUALIFICATIONS AS A PROPORTION OF PEOPLE IN SELECTED INCOME BRACKETS(a) - 2001
One reason for the higher incomes of people with higher education qualifications is their employment in higher-skilled occupations. The median income of Professionals (who accounted for over half of employed people with higher education qualifications) in 2001, was $980 per week, well above the overall median of $721 per week. Similarly, other common occupations of people with higher education qualifications had relatively high incomes. The median income of Managers and administrators (of whom 28% had higher education qualifications) was $992 per week, while for Associate professionals it was $758 per week.
Although people with higher education qualifications have had consistently higher incomes than those without, the relative difference has decreased. In 1976, the median gross weekly income of people with higher education qualifications ($257) was almost double that of those without ($143). In 2001, as noted earlier, it was just under 50% higher.
1 Andrews, L and Wu, T 1998, The Labour Market Experience of Higher Education Graduates over the Last Decade, Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Canberra.