In the ever-changing job market, some degrees are valuable currency and some have dropped in value. Find out what’s hot and what’s not in higher learning

A university degree was once seen as the golden ticket to employment but according to industry experts and recent data there are many degrees that leave graduates empty handed once their gown and mortarboard have been handed back.

Some degrees are hotter than others, with employment statistics from Griffith University (2009 to 2011) indicating that about half of the graduates with degrees in Art and Design; Communications, Media and Journalism; Health Services and Support; and Language and Literature are less likely to gain full time employment.

Griffith graduates with the highest rate of employment included Architecture and Urban Environments with 90.1 per cent, Law with 85.6 per cent, Medicine with 99.3 per cent and Physiotherapy 93 per cent.

The University of Queensland tells a similar story, with their Engineering and Medicine graduates having a 100 per cent employment success rate while Dentistry employment sits at 90.4 per cent and Nursing on 92.2 per cent. Having less luck in the employment stakes are Political Science graduates with a 59.9 per cent chance of fulltime employment, Communications, Media and Journalism with 61.7 per cent and Psychology at 66.1 per cent.

Griffith University student Julian Rosendahl, 21, decided to switch career paths while studying in order to have a better chance of gaining fulltime employment and a sustainable career.

“I had to figure out a different way to use my skills and during this process I realised there are so many other people like me in similar situations,” he says.

“At the moment I’m in the second year in my Arts and Law Degree. I enjoyed my time studying music but I knew my own skills wouldn’t necessarily get me a job after I started doing research into the job market.”

Rosendahl recently travelled to Paris as part of the Global Voices OECD Australian Youth Delegation to discuss his research into global youth unemployment with industry leaders.

“I hope to bring to the forefront some of the unemployment issues and challenges faced not only by OECD nations, but also in the Middle East, North Africa and here in Australia,” he says.

“I’m urging employers to look at the skills students gain inside the degree, for example if they’ve studied music they must have good analytical skills, why not look at them for a job outside the specific industry they studied in?

“I think employers need to look at a skills match and see other ways university graduates can still be employable in different areas.”

Blue Sky Careers principal and career strategist Rosin Duffy said the job market was particularly tough at the moment and university graduates needed to up-skill rather than just relying on their degrees to secure a job.

“It’s all about work experience and showing what else you can bring to a job outside of your qualifications,” she explained.

“I have people contacting me saying they are university graduates and they are looking for work, but that is not enough.

“While they are studying they need to be doing work experience and internships, gaining extra experience and making contacts that can help them once they graduate.”

Despite the competitive job market, Duffy advises students against switching career paths if that is where their true passion lies.

“Just because the industry you want to enter is tough at the moment does not always mean you should abandon it,” she warned.

“You need to establish yourself and have a career plan. Swapping careers does not always look good so you have to be aware of the industry you are entering and establish yourself there through work experience.”