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Step 2 Consider the options

13 Feb 2014


The 'Your Career Strategy' blog has been developed for high school students, MTEC students, and those young professionals starting out. The aim is to provide you with a structured approach to developing a career strategy and meeting your career goals.


Five things to Consider before pursuing your career option:

1). What will my occupation look like in 5 or 10 years time?

Jobs are not static, and the skills you need today may well become redundant tomorrow. With advances in technology and automation, skills sets are changing. Take for example the mining industry, where new technologies under development will change future mining workforce requirements and the way mine workforces are managed. Next generation miners will need new skills and capabilities to deal with large-scale automation, equipment maintenance, data processing, systems and process analysis, operational control, and mine planning are likely to emerge. These new roles require different aptitudes and competencies, such as knowledge and skill in mathematics and science, and information technology. To future-proof careers, looking at the big picture trends to define future growth areas is essential.


2). What jobs are in demand and what jobs are not?

According to McCrindle Research, "2.1 million Australians (9% of the total population) are enrolled in formal study beyond the school classroom and 7.8 million Australians aged 25-64 have a post-secondary qualification which is 2 in 3 people (67%, up from 54% a decade ago)." You will be entering a highly competitive job market with only a limited number of graduate positions. It is important that you understand employment prospects for the different occupations. Take for example Forensic Science, where enrolments in recent years have sky-rocketed, thanks largely to the TV series CSI. However, as there are only a handful of CSI-type roles within Australia, the majority of these star-stunned students will not end up as forensic scientists at all.

Every year Graduate Careers Australia releases its Australian Graduate Survey, which surveys graduates four months out from graduation. As of December 2013 the jobs with the highest and lowest graduate employment rates included:


Top Five in Full-Time Employment



% in FT employment





Mining Engineering






Electrical Engineering



Civil Engineering



Bottom Five in Full-Time Employment



% in FT employment


Visual/Performing Arts



Life Sciences



Social Sciences









In a recent article McCrindle Research presented their analyses of graduate data derived from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Graduate Careers Australia, and compiled a list of the best and worst emerging jobs in 2014. The article also looked at other important areas to consider, such as the value of qualifications over time, student debt, and popular degrees versus employment outcomes:

The difference in starting salaries between those who enter the workforce without tertiary qualifications and those with a bachelor degree is negligible, but the motivating factor to pursue higher education remains. A senior salary for a factory worker is $63,000, for a construction worker it is $75,000, for a pharmacist it is $80,500, and for an engineer, $173,000.


3). Is my University Degree worth its salt?

Going to an Australian Group of 8 University may help you land a top job in either finance or legal; but in many other industries, experience trumps school name for most employers. So instead of choosing the most prestigious university, look at which programs will provide you the practical experience necessary to be competitive in the job market. If you wanted to study, for example, Marine Biology, would you select a University with long sandstone corridors, or would you select a university whose program is recognised worldwide as one of the best, such as James Cook University’s program, who are not a Group of Eight member. On the other hand, if you are contemplating doing an Open Online Course, do your due diligence, and ask a potential employer how they regard this type of qualification. The Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC) website provides information on professional pathways into the minerals industry.


4. Work Experience and Vaccation Work

If you can combine your qualification with a few years of relevant work experience, you may find the employment environment much friendlier when graduation comes. Not to mention that getting a few years of real life experience can help you hone in on what it is you really want to pursue. I'm not saying quit your studies and find a job as a drillers-assistant if Mining Engineering is your goal, but work experience and vacation work will not only make you more marketable to employers, it will also allow you to appreciate how an industry meets your own specific needs. For some degrees it is necessary to undertake work experience before graduation (e.g. Community Welfare, Medicine, and Mining Engineering).

Put yourself in a potential employer's shoes. You're reviewing a pile of applications for a few graduate roles in your organisation. All of the resumes are identical: a good school result, some part-time work, statements of claim, but it is so hard to determine on paper whether these candidates will be a good fit in your organisation. Remember experience counts. Suddenly you see that a few applicants have spent their semester break with your company, or similar companies in the same industry. You automatically recognise that here are students who understand the culture of the workforce and/or organisation, and have demonstrated initiative and enthusiasm – two highly regarded qualities. It tells you, "Here is someone who is truly committed to their career".

Check with your school or online for work experience and/or vacation work opportunities, or approach specific companies yourself to understand what their policy and procedure is and when they accept vacation/work experience applications. Industry and Discipline organisations also offer programs to link employers with graduates. For example, Engineers Australia has recently invited industry employers to be a part of their new initiative called "EA Connect". The EA Connect website will connect EA Student and Graduate members to industry employers. You should most certainly invest some time in researching member organisations, such as AusIMM.


5). Understand the Job Market

Probably the most difficult part of planning your career strategy is wading through the hundreds of different occupations. Hopefully, however, by better understanding YOU, this will narrow the search. The good news is that there are many avenues to explore the career options. The bad news is that the share volume of these resources can be at times over-whelming. Below are some suggested websites that we believe may help you in your search:

My Future

My Future is for anyone who needs information to support their own or others' career planning.

Graduate Careers

Graduate Careers is a leading authority in graduate careers in Australia.

Jobs Guide

The Jobs Guide provides an in-depth look at occupations and their education and training pathways.

Mining Careers

Mining Careers provides information about working in Australia's minerals industry.

Mining Oil and Gas Jobs

Research current job opportunities, including vacation work.


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