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Category Archives: education

By Stephen Johnson
July 02, 2009 06:33pm

Jobless given access to subsidised training
“Training for training’s sake is … cruel”
Billions ‘wasted’ on intervention

A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

Plan is “cruel”

Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

The plan follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

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Rebecca Smith
May 13, 2009

Rebecca Smith: ”To invest in research is to invest in society’s long-term well-being.”
In the last quarter of 2008, a significant group of Australians was living below the poverty line. For a single person, this meant living on less than $415.06 a week. These people were working full time — 40 hours a week, and probably much more. They received no employer superannuation and weren’t entitled to concessions or pensions.

Who were they? Illegal migrant workers? Sweatshop employees unaware of their rights? No — they were some of Australia’s best and brightest minds: PhD students.

A PhD is a long-term research project. PhD students take up these projects after undergraduate studies. They work for about four years to train as independent researchers with the aim of making a significant contribution to knowledge. If successful, a PhD student is awarded a doctorate (D) of philosophy (Ph) and can begin a research career.

Research into the fundamental questions of science and the humanities is what drives a society forward. The application of the resultant knowledge makes a society healthier, wealthier, happier and more productive. To invest in research is to invest in a society’s long-term well-being.

Four reports into research and higher education were delivered to the Government in 2008, and each recommended increasing the nation’s investment in research and development.

In response, the 2009-10 budget increased funding to science and innovation by 25 per cent. For the basic research administered by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Australian Research Council, funds were increased by 8 per cent overall.

These increases will go some way to improving Australia’s gross expenditure on research and development, which was last measured at 2.01 per cent of GDP, below the 2.26 per cent OECD average.

But the budget was another disappointment to PhD students. Their stipends will increase 10 per cent from $20,427 in 2009 to $22,500 in 2010. This is an improvement relative to the 2 per cent increase between 2008 ($20,007) and 2009, but nowhere near what is needed.

The 2008 Parliamentary Inquiry into Research Training and Research Workforce Issues recommended increasing PhD scholarships by 50 per cent to $30,000 a year, and to extend support from 3½ years to 4½ years.

The Cutler and Bradley reviews recommended more modest increases to $25,000 and four years. The Australia 2020 Summit report also suggested formalising research as a career path, like teaching or medicine, and giving researchers the recognition they are due.

The 10 per cent increase is, as Innovation Minister Kim Carr hinted, “as budget permitted”. It’s a reflection of the times and a nod to the advice given to the Government by the reviews of 2008. But it doesn’t acknowledge the true worth of Australia’s researchers to our future prosperity.

Doubling the number of places for PhD students, as the 2008-09 budget allowed, was only half the solution to fulfilling Australia’s future demand for highly skilled workers.

The other half of the solution was to increase PhD stipends. PhD students and the research community were hoping this year’s budget would deliver. It didn’t, and we are still paying our next generation of researchers a relative pittance.

An annual $20,000 or $22,500 PhD stipend (tax-free) is not an adequate financial inducement for talented students who could earn double that amount, and more, by entering the workforce directly after their bachelor’s degree.

If money is what motivates, the result will be that Australia has fewer and fewer researchers in training.

But it is not financial rewards that drive bright, idealistic students into the long and challenging route to their research licences. Those who choose a research career would probably do so regardless of money.

And so we have to ask, is this systematised exploitation of Australia’s young researchers? An out-of-date training model stressed by the economic crisis? A reflection of the entrenched short-sightedness of three-year governments, focused not on building intellectual infrastructure but patching holes? Or an expression of Australia’s sad tendency to shun scholarly achievement and tall poppies? That PhD stipends have remained so low for so long, even in our recent boom, suggests the answer to that.

We could also suggest that a 10 per cent increase to stipends helps students but it helps our politicians more, because, most of all, it helps avoid the embarrassing situation of another financial quarter in which Australia’s future leaders are living below the poverty line.

Dr Rebecca Smith is the founding director of Science Hub Australia, a new organisation for the advancement of Australian scientists and science.

http://www.watoday.com.au/opinion/clever-country-our-brightest-are-kept-dirt-poor-20090513-b3bz.html?page=-1

The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
You are here: HigherEducation > Publications > The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey
“The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university“ reports the findings of the 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey. It contains information on the outcomes and pathways of bachelor graduates five years after graduation.

Abstract
The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was designed to gain information on employment outcomes five years after completing a bachelor degree, how these changed from graduates’ initial outcomes, the pathways taken and the factors that influence outcomes. 9,238 graduates from all Table A higher education providers (with one exception) as well as Bond University and the University of Notre Dame participated in the survey. The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey was the first national study of its kind in Australia.

The Key findings were that:

Graduates can take a few years to establish their careers: the rate of participation in paid work among graduates rose from 84% to 91% between the first and fifth year following graduation;
At the national level, the median graduate salary rose from $38,000 to $60,000 in the first five years post-graduation – a 58% increase;
Graduate outcomes and pathways varied for different fields of education, with some graduates taking longer to settle into their careers; and
Graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved outcomes on par with the general graduate population.

http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/Pages/The2008GraduatePathwaysSurvey.aspx

LSAY 55: Varying pay-offs to post school education and training
Posted on 20 January 2009 at 09:16AM

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release Tuesday 20 January 2009

Varying pay-offs to post school education and training

Social background plays only a small role in accounting for differences in occupational status and earnings at age 24, indicating that education is enhancing social mobility, a recent Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) study found.

The study, released today, found that, in general, post-school education and training leads to higher status occupations and higher earnings, compared to not doing any further study or training.

However, not all forms of post-secondary education and training are equally beneficial. In terms of earnings, a bachelor degree had the largest impact, increasing earnings by about 31 per cent on average. Apprenticeships increased earnings by about 23 per cent, a TAFE diploma increased earnings by about 14 per cent, and a university diploma by about 17 per cent. Completing a traineeship increased earnings by about 8 per cent and a TAFE certificate by about 5 per cent.

Generally, young women had slightly higher levels of occupational status than did young men, but even during their early career weekly earnings were about 20 per cent less. Possible reasons for this include the higher proportions of young women in part-time work and gender differences in the types of jobs.

ACER chief executive, Professor Geoff Masters, said “Although the overall results are positive for education and training, some TAFE certificates are not delivering sustained increases in earnings. This is in part due to the types of jobs some vocational education is directed towards.”

“However, it may be that young people who had experienced difficulties in the labour market are pursuing TAFE certificate courses or that they are not always choosing appropriate courses.”

The young people were first surveyed in 1995 when they were in Year 9. More than 4200 remained in the study when they were last surveyed in 2005 at about 24 years old. By then, 77 per cent of the cohort was in full-time work. In all years, the incidence of full-time work was substantially higher among young men than among young women.

Further information and additional findings are available in the report, The Occupations and Earnings of Young Australians: The Role of Education and Training by Gary N. Marks. The study is research report number 55 in the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), a program funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) with support from state and territory governments.

Download full report from: http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/LSAY55.pdf

http://www.acer.edu.au/1/index.php/news-item/lsay55