Graduates wary of start-ups despite diminishing job prospects

Industry experts say students are still wary of starting their own businesses despite new figures that reveal job prospects for university graduates have dwindled during the past two years.


A new report from Graduate Careers Australia showed that employment prospects for new graduates fell for the second consecutive year in 2010.


The Australian Graduate Survey is conducted annually with all Australian universities and a number of smaller private institutions taking part. Almost 100,000 new graduates took part in the 2010 survey.


The report revealed that in 2010 76.2% of bachelor degree graduates available for full-time employment had found a permanent position within four months of completing their course.


That figure was down from 79.2% in 2009, 85.2% in 2008 and was the lowest since 1994.


GCA research manager Bruce Guthrie said employment figures for new graduates had initially been affected by the global financial crisis and ongoing labour market uncertainty among graduate recruiters had seen graduate intakes remain conservative.


He advised final year students to begin job searches now if they haven’t already done so because competition for jobs would be strong.


“We are now into the recruitment season for final year students and it seems that activity might be up a little this year which suggests that graduate employment figures could show an improvement,” Guthrie said.


While it’s been suggested that unpromising job prospects could prompt university students to venture out on their own industry experts say reality is quite the opposite.


Mark Parncutt, co-founder of student start-up Nudge, is also a founding member of Student  Entrepreneurs, a student-led entrepreneurship group based at Melbourne University.


Parncutt, who is in his final year at university, says most students in final years of their degrees are more concerned about finding a stable, well-paying job than going it alone.


“The vast majority of students are simply not interested in entrepreneurship or starting their own business,” he says.


Parncutt says while there are entrepreneurship courses available to university students he suspects they are wedded to standard business degrees.


“It’s also worth noting that well over half of the Bachelor of Commerce students at Melbourne University are international students, mostly from East Asian cultures where entrepreneurship is far less likely to be seen as a career option, even compared to the dismal perception that Australian students have of entrepreneurship,” Parncutt says.


Amir Nissen, founder and manager of Student Entrepreneurs, says students interested in entrepreneurship should consider a technology degree over a business degree because that is where the demand is.


“There aren’t as many web application start-ups as you’d expect to see due to declined numbers of students in computer science and software engineering degrees … most of the next generation of start-ups are heavily focused in the online space,” he says.


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