'You end up behind a bar': 22 graduates fighting for every job

Alicia Keir is in her final year of a teaching degree and expects that it will take about two years to find a full-time job once she graduates, but is worried it could take much longer.

"I know people who go up to seven years without finding a permanent position," said Ms Keir, 26, who is studying primary education at the University of Newcastle and lives in Sydney's south-west.

"Each year, I've seen how many teaching graduates come through, it's the luck of the draw whether a spot [in a school is] available."

Across Australia, about 22 university graduates are competing for every new graduate position and many will need to settle for low-paying entry roles "just to get their foot in the jobs market", a new national report has found.

The competition for graduate jobs is the worst in South Australia, with 46 recent university-leavers per new role, according to an analysis of nearly 140,000 job ads by market aggregator Adzuna.

This falls to 22 new graduates per role in Victoria and 20 graduates for every job in NSW. The Northern Territory has the least competition, with six new graduates per role.

Nationally, 130,105 people who recently left university with bachelor degrees are competing for 5783 advertised graduate positions, the report found, based on an analysis of the Department of Education's university completion data and recent job advertisements.

Adzuna's chief executive Raife Watson said that more than a third of advertised graduate jobs are in Sydney, but the chances of getting a role increase significantly outside major cities.

"Don't be the 20 graduates applying for a job in Sydney, be the two people applying in Gunnedah," Mr Watson said. "That's the trick, be flexible in location."

Ms Keir said she is passionate about teaching and working with children, but will start thinking about a career change if it takes too long to find a full-time job.

"I'd potentially go and study again, either further my education and maybe go into high school teaching or, in seven years, I might want to go into a completely differently industry," Ms Keir said.

Mr Watson said that some fields, such as law and teaching, are much harder to find work in than others.

"It's cheap for universities to churn out courses in certain areas, especially degrees outside the sciences with [fewer] contact hours and teachers," Mr Watson said.

"With deregulation, there are more places and scores drop, but there just aren't the jobs at the end of it, so you have a huge number of graduates who aren't needed.

"You end up behind a bar or in some other job that's unrelated to what you studied. You see a lot of law graduates going into sales or call centres."

More than 7500 Australian students graduated with law degrees in 2015 but there are about 84 graduate law positions advertised nationally on Adzuna, which captures about 80 per cent of the overall job market.

This equates to about 90 new law graduates per available graduate position.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are nearly 700 graduate engineer positions being advertised and about 6000 students graduated with an engineering degree in 2015, equating to nearly nine graduates per role.

Mr Watson said more needs to be done by governments and businesses to address the gap between what people are studying and where jobs are available.

"We need to think about what's really needed in education, the courses that we really need in the country," he said.

"Why aren't we pushing more people into [science, technology, maths and engineering] degrees?"

This story 'You end up behind a bar': 22 graduates fighting for every job first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.