Over the next few weeks, many graduates of the class of 2014 will receive their final school exam results and, hopefully, be offered a place at TAFE or uni. Others will consider getting started in the workforce. For my money, adding to our skills and qualifications is one of the smartest investments we can make. Our job isn’t just a source of satisfaction it is also a pretty good starting point for making money.
For school leavers, who have just wrapped up 13 or so years of education, the thought of tertiary study may not be all that appealing. And, yes, higher education comes with a raft of costs that students, and in many cases their families, need to plan for.
But if you can cross these hurdles, furthering your education can make it easier to get into the workforce as well as enhancing your lifelong earning capacity.
When it comes to a healthy labour market, Australia is lucky enough to rank among the top ten countries in the world. Our unemployment rate of about 6.0% is well below European countries like Spain (24.5%) and Greece (27.3%).
This can make it tempting for school leavers to bypass tertiary study and head straight into the workforce. The stumbling block is often high rates of youth unemployment. Teenagers (aged 15 to 19) who are looking for full-time work face an unemployment rate 4.5 times higher than for those aged 20 and over.
Adding to your skill set is the thing can make a real difference to your ability to secure a job. Completing additional study can also see you earn more – virtually from day one – than your less qualified school mates. Indeed, only around one in ten workers with no-post school qualifications have similar earning power.
Part of the challenge for school leavers is to select a course of study that will continue to enhance your job prospects over time. The employment landscape is forever changing, and some once commonplace occupations simply don’t exist anymore – like typists or the person running the photocopy room. These days we’re more likely to see career opportunities for computer programmers. In fact, nearly one quarter of today’s workers are classed as ‘professionals’.
If you aren’t sure whether a particular field of study will hold you in good stead over the longer term, take a look at the federal government’s Labour Market Information portal (http://lmip.gov.au). It provides useful details on the prospects for every conceivable occupation plus the outlook for various industries.