Graduates doing more for tradies, by degrees

Graduates doing more for tradies, by degrees

Perhaps tradies should be thanking uni graduates, rather than scoffing at them for ordering lattes.

Not only are graduates boosting Australia's GDP, it seems they are actually responsible for higher wages for hard-working tradespeople.

That's the theme of a study to be published on Monday, on the spillover benefits to workers without a degree, from having more graduates in the workforce.

Every graduate entering the workforce in the last financial year is estimated to have increased national GDP by $124,000.

The report finds for every 1000 university graduates who enter the workforce, 120 new jobs are created for people without university degrees.


And the weekly wages of tradies are said to have risen by $655 a year due to the spillover benefits of university education.

"Indeed, without these positive employment spillovers from graduates, the growth rate in employment for those without university degrees is estimated to be zero over the last eight years," it says.

"The spillover employment benefits are spread across a range of occupations for those without university degrees.

"Significantly, [the] benefits are shown to accrue primarily to technicians and trades workers, managers, machinery operators and drivers, labourers, and clerical and administrative workers."

The modelling, undertaken by Canberra-based Cadence Economics, was commissioned by Universities Australia and is being released on Monday under the title, "The graduate effect".

The message about the importance of tertiary education to the economy is clearly aimed at Treasurer Scott Morrison, ahead of Tuesday's budget.

Reinforcing that theme, Universities Australia boss Belinda Robinson describes the findings as "further proof that keeping our university sector strong will be indispensable" to the nation's economic growth.

"If we want to create more jobs and better-paying jobs for all Australians, we can't afford to cut investment in the engine room of economic transition, our universities," she said in a statement.

"Ahead of the budget, this confirms the positive effects of new university graduates, not only in the creation of new jobs for those without university degrees but also in their wages, as well as the overall employment and economic growth of the nation.

"Over the coming decades, it will be the skills and smarts of our people, our human capital, that will be central to strengthening the Australian economy and building economic resilience.

"What this report tells us is that higher education does not just benefit those with the qualification - a highly skilled, highly-educated workforce is essential for jobs growth, workforce productivity and the overall competitiveness of Australian industry."

Ross Peake is a senior reporter for The Canberra Times

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