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Statistics reveal new graduates are unemployed and unequipped to navigate work

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Recent statistics reveal a stark reality for university graduates in Australia’s architecture and design sectors, with one in three facing unemployment or grappling with the challenges of transitioning into full-time work.

This alarming trend sheds light on the pressing need for targeted solutions to bridge the gap between university and industry demands.

According to Australian labour market data and graduate surveys, from QILT, an average 32% of recent graduates in architecture and design find themselves without employment opportunities, highlighting a substantial gap between educational training and the practical skills required by the job market.

Depending on the university you graduate from, the employment statistics can vary, with a noticeable decline when considering demographic factors.

International students, female students, and those with disabilities, anecdotally, may face additional challenges. Some university surveys have even identified a staggering 48% of recent graduates experiencing difficulties in finding employment.

“The gap between what universities teach and what employers need is clear,” said Kevin Mitchem, Co-founder of CO-architecture.

“Fundamentally, universities focus on theoretical knowledge and creative exploration, while employers want practical skills, technical know-how, and an understanding of real-world constraints like budgets and timelines.”

“Graduates are crying out for applied learning experiences. CO-academy bridges this gap by helping graduates gain the practical skills employers seek in design and architecture” added Mitchem.

Australian Graduates Speak Out – Recent graduates in Australia echo the challenges they face in securing employment. Jafar Abtan, a member of CO-academy’s boot camp, reflects on his uni experience, stating,”Any position within the field would satisfy me, but I need to (be) realistic.”

This sentiment underscores the difficulties young professionals encounter as they navigate the competitive job market post-graduation.

Despite the enduring evidence of this gap, it presents an opportunity for design professionals, educational institutions and the industry to collaborate to address the issue and evolve current training methods.

“I have spoken to so many graduates and working professionals and they all agree that it’s extremely difficult to secure a job after university because their studies do not align with what employers are looking for,” said Mitchem.

After finding early traction with local WA accelerators, CO-architecture, the umbrella startup of CO-academy, kickstarted its journey in late 2022 as a marketplace connecting independent and job-seeking design professionals with businesses and clients hiring for projects or work.

At the end of 2023, CO-architecture is holding around 15% market share with the number of user sign-ups expected to hit 30% by the end of 2024 with the introduction of CO-academy.

“Architecture and design sectors lack government support like the national BCITF program that funds and supports careers in construction or trades. So it’s amazing to see CO-architecture filling the gap and creating a framework where businesses in creative industries like design and architecture can leverage the network to support their own internal training and early-career programs,” added Mitchem.

Jobs and Skills Australia’s recent projections show strong job growth from November 2021 to November 2026, with the A&D workforce expected to reach 140,200 by 2026 and CO-academy represents a promising solution for the often overlooked design and architecture industry.

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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