DP91 Worsening employment outcomes for Pacific technical graduate job-seekers

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 91

By Richard Curtain and Stephen Howes

February 2021

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is a major Australian government foreign aid initiative that commenced in 2008, that has spent over $350 million, and that has turned out over 15,000 graduates with Australian qualifications. Analysis of graduate tracer surveys shows that employment outcomes for APTC graduates looking for a job (job-seekers) have worsened markedly over the last decade. Graduates from each of the seven Pacific countries for whom there is sufficient data show worsening outcomes over time. Employment outcomes have worsened in part because APTC has changed the composition of courses it offers towards qualifications with weaker employer demand, but mainly because of the falling demand for the trades and hospitality qualifications it has offered since inception. There are worse employment outcomes for female APTC job-seekers. Our analysis suggests that concerns about brain drain are overblown. We suggest the APTC adopt a greater focus on promoting international migration opportunities to improve employment outcomes for their graduates, a more demand-led approach to student admission and course selection, and a review of the quality of graduates.

Curtain, R. & Howes, S. 2021, ‘Worsening employment outcomes for Pacific technical graduate job-seekers’, Discussion Paper No. 91, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.