Not enough jobs for graduates | The Jackal

20 Jul 2012

Not enough jobs for graduates

Today, the Listener reported (not online yet):

Online shopping site Mighty Ape, based in Auckland, advertised several months ago for customer service staff and ended up hiring an IT graduate and a film school graduate for entry-level positions, says company founder Simon Barton.

"We also advertised for a new warehouse monkey [staffer] and we had several graduates apply. I find this quite shocking. I'm not sure I would risk studying for three years only to find there are no suitable jobs in the market. The other issue we found striking was the number of people with film school or media studies backgrounds. Where are those jobs? Why are we teaching courses for these occupations if there are so few oppurtunities?" says Barton.

It's a good question. New Zealand has developed a somewhat privatised system of tertiary education, whereby providers are run largely independent of the government. This means that courses are promoted to potential clients even if there are no job placements available after graduation.

Instead of matching the number of placements to the potential job market, the system relies on students choosing courses, often with little or no information concerning future job prospects. In fact the only information a student is usually given is the course advertising, which paints a false picture to encourage enrollment.

It would defeat the purpose of the private institute to inform students that there's little hope of future employment in their chosen field of expertise and they would effectively be doing themselves out of a job. Nobody is going waste thousands of dollars on course fees when studying does not increase employment potential.

This is where the government should be acting decisively instead of leaving it up to the marketplace to dictate how many people are trained in each profession dependent upon how many applicants there are. The Ministry of Education should be looking at how many job placements are required, and funding accordingly.

There is of course some degree of scope, being that so many New Zealanders are leaving our shores and it's preferable that they have an opportunity to train beforehand. It's also worthwhile mentioning that some courses have benefits outside of employment... Adult Education courses for instance have huge payoffs for communities, especially in rural areas.

So this isn't just a failure of the private sector to create enough jobs, it's a failure of the government to regulate properly on how many people are trained accordingly. If National wants more student loan money returned, they must act to remedy the current dysfunction within our education system. Anything less is just a waste of time and money.

Considering the complete mess surrounding the planned teacher cuts, I somehow doubt the Minister of Education Hekia Parata has the brains to make the required changes.