Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 15. August 4, 1971
"In Britain, five percent of graduates are still unemployed six months after graduation. The situation in New Zealand has not been adequately tabulated, but it is going to increase in both the Arts and Sciences." So said a prominent Educationalist recently.
Britain has something to worry about. So has America. [unclear: m] both countries, the Universities are reacting with shock to the fact that a degree no longer guarantees a good job. What about New Zealand? Well without worrying too much about the Educationalist quoted, it all boils down to the fact that, in New Zealand no one has a clear idea whether any graduates are unemployed at all, and if so for how long they have been out of a job.
This does not mean that New Zealand has no cause for alarm. Whether there is graduates unemployment or not, there is a seemingly widespread belief within the community that the universities are turning out too many graduates, and that university students are wasting the country's resources But then, there is no evidence at all for this either. A comparison of the statistics on higher education in the United States and New Zealand shows that the New Zealand graduates is a far less expensive product than the American one New Zealand has always produced its graduates on a shoe-string, and we like to think that they are just as good as American graduates.
Then, there is the belief that there are too many B.A.'s in this or that subject, or B.Sc.'s in this or that. The belief is there, but the facts are not. Too many Pure Mathematics graduates? There are more jobs for maths graduates than you think - in Market Research, Quality Control, Computers, etc. - and if New Zealand's management techniques were as advanced as those in the United States there would be jobs for the Maths graduate in Operations Research, Linear Programming and so on.
A closer look at each of the degree subjects criticised tends to evaporate the criticism. In fact, if New Zealand were at all Comparable to the United States then every teacher, would have a degree, every Company would have its Quality control section staffed by statistics graduates, its Industrial Engineering Section staffed by Information Science graduates, and its Research and Development Section by Ph.D.'s.
But, at the present time, there are indications that over 50% of the Companies in New Zealand do not consider graduates relevant to their business. As this changes, and as all "relevant jobs for graduates are filled (and we don't accurately define "relevant", much less estimate how many graduates the economy can absorb we may approach the state of serious graduate unemployment.
Does this mean that there are no unemployed graduates in New Zealand? Not at all. There are graduates in Modern Languages who don't want to go teaching, but would rather work on the wharf waiting for something better to turn up. These are "unemployed" in a sense. There are women graduates who spend three months trying to persuade one employer that they will stay, and not get pregnant. However, if there are unemployed graduates, they are so by their own free choice, or because of social factors beyond their control.
But then, what do you mean by "unemployed graduate"? No one has defined that in New Zealand either. Surely no one can place an absolute definition on it. Is a graduate in English who works for a computer company unemployed? He's not in a job relevant to his degree but obviously, relevance of work to a degree cannot be a criterion of graduate employment.
Are graduates in oversupply? No one knows. Are all possible jobs for graduates filled? No one can say, but only a fraction of the Companies that can use graduates have actually recruited them. There's hope for you yet!