Occupation Outlook provides study guidance

Some tertiary qualifications lead directly to work, many more could if  students had a better idea of where the job opportunities were and which qualifications were most likely to lead to work.

Occupation Outlook should do that.

The Government will ensure young people are better informed about the skills needed in our economy and what to train for in a new initiative announced as part of the Skilled and Safe Workplaces progress report released today.

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will produce an annual Occupational Outlook that will clearly set out information collected from industries and businesses on the expected demand for key occupations in the years ahead.

“There has been a shortage of good occupation-level information for students, parents and tertiary providers about where the skill gaps will be and what students need to do to seize those opportunities as they embark on their studies. The Occupational Outlook will help address that gap,” Mr Joyce says.

“Employers have been telling us anecdotally for some time that there is a supply glut in some occupations, and a real shortage in areas like Engineering and ICT. We have addressed the availability of study places with our Budget 2012 increased investment in Engineering courses. The next issue is to help increase student interest in taking the right subjects so they can take up these opportunities.

“The Occupational Outlook will provide information on job prospects for around 40 occupations, as well as setting out likely income ranges, and qualifications needed. This will be very useful information for parents, students, education and training providers, and Government agencies.” . . .

Agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth has often pointed out that the mismatch between student subject choice and potential jobs.

Professor Rowarth says she doesn’t understand why so many students study arts subjects when the jobs aren’t there when they graduate, or if they do get jobs, starting salaries are so much lower than for science grads. “Graduates in applied science and agribusiness are being offered salary packages of approximately $70,000. I’m not saying ignore arts and culture – I’m just advocating that we feed the soul outside work hours, because we need science and scientific research to keep our economy growing. We also need agriculture and agribusiness. We can shape the future by ensuring that we achieve the right components in education and in the workforce.”

Aware she may upset her colleagues in the arts with these statements, Professor Rowarth says the data are globally available and she’s happy to discuss. “We all want our children ‘to be happy’: that means encouraging them in to careers where they will be valued and can make a difference.”

No-one is suggesting people shouldn’t study arts nor that every degree should lead directly to a job. there is still a place for a general degree which might not be a meal ticket but does show its holder can think and reason.

But students should go into their studies with their eyes wide open to where they might, or might not, lead them when they graduate.

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