Daily Archives: June 22, 2013

How well do agriculture graduates do?

A reader of my article on science graduates surplus to labour market requirements took exception to a figure showing poor job relevance of agriculture degrees. He points out (correctly) that this ABS category is ‘Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies’, and argues that the poor outcomes are due to the environmental rather than agricultural element.

Unfortunately, the survey I was using in the figure does not report at sub-field level. However, the census does and we can see that although environmental studies is the biggest sub-field (the numbers in brackets) the more traditional agricultural areas don’t do especially well in leading to professional or managerial employment, the occupations the ABS deems to require bachelor-degree level skills.

Note: Only includes people reporting a bachelor degree as their highest qualification. Those not working and those currently studying have been excluded.

On a quick glance there looked to be unusually large numbers in jobs classified by the ABS as ‘technicians and tradespersons’. Adding them in takes most disciplines up to 70-76% employment.

The numbers for recent agriculture graduates may be compromised by the inclusion of environmental graduates (they use a different disciplinary classification to the ABS; I am not sure what is included in agriculture). But their employment rates are slightly below average.

I am aware that employers in the agricultural sector report recruiting difficulties. But overall these figures suggest that agriculture is a relatively high employment risk course choice.