Ag graduate employment prospects very strong: Ag Deans

Beef Central, 19/02/2014

Graduates in agricultural courses are enjoying stronger employment prospects than prevailing information from career advisors suggests, according to the peak body representing university agricultural course providers in Australia.

The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture (ACDA) has spoken out this week to clarify what it sees as an anomaly in the way employment figures for agriculture graduates are interpreted, and which it believes is leading to an unfairly negative picture of employment prospects for agricultural graduates being reported.

The ACDA said yesterday that agricultural course graduates are in high demand in the career market, but this is often not being reflected in career advice being passed on to prospective students.

ACDA secretary, professor Jim Pratley of Charles Sturt University, said the council believes a tendency to group employment figures for agricultural graduates with employment figures for environmental sciences and management graduates was leading to career advice about agricultural courses that was less positive than the findings of ACDA’s own research showed.

One of the leading sources of information for career advisors is the Graduate Destination Survey conducted by Graduate Careers Australia, which groups agricultural and environmental science course graduates in the same category (but also provides individual employment figures for agriculture and environmental service graduates).

“Because there are around four times as many environmental graduates as agriculture graduates, using total category data skews employment figures to reflect the situation for environment graduates more than those from agriculture,” Prof Pratley said.

In recent years, the combined data suggests only about 70pc of graduates find full time employment four months after graduation.

However, when separating the numbers to show figures specifically for agriculture graduates, the data showed that 90pc of graduates had found full time employment four months after graduation.

GCA policy adviser Bruce Guthrie said that while GCA did provide detailed data on each field, career advisors were not necessarily using that information.

"GCA recognises the importance of providing accurate data on careers,” Mr Guthrie said. "Detailed data sets featuring complete field of education breakdowns are provided with our summary reports but that does not mean they are used."

President of ACDA Professor Iain Young praised GCA for their cooperation. “We in the university sector are delighted to have common interests with GCA and are very appreciative of its actions to clarify its survey results to reflect the actual agriculture situation.”




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