A world in economic crisis

More evidence that it is the 1970s redux

Posted in Australia by Aussie on July 6, 2011

The ABC Australia news site has an article regarding the university graduate job market. It reports that university graduates are taking 4 months or longer after graduation to find work. It also states that the official unemployment rate is 5% but the real rate is more like 12%. You don’t say!! Please click the link to read the whole article.

Well, this is all very predictable, because I have been saying for more than 12 months that we are experiencing the 1970s redux. Also, university graduate unemployment was in fact a very painful experience at the end of my course which was at the end of 1975.  By 1975 the market for accounting graduates had dried up. Going for the vocational interviews was really horrible because the people who came to the campus were best described as either stuffed shirts or women haters (and even though I am not a feminist I have no other way of describing these men).

A lot of graduates normally end up in the Australian Public Service, and it was natural to go for an interview to see what was on offer. Imagine my horror over the bad manners of the man from the ATO. I am not sure whether it was the fact that I am a Catholic, or it was simply that he had a preference for male graduates, but either way the interview itself was really terrible. Then there was the man from Coopers and Lybrand who had an absolute set against the employment of women. It could have also been a result of the tight market, but he really made the girls feel very small with his glib talk about how women did not like to move around but preferred desk jobs, which was all about his excuses and not about those who were there for interview. The process was terrible.

By 1975 the big 6 of the accounting firms were taking very few graduates. It meant that they were looking for the top performers. The rest of us were just dirt to them. In the early part of 1976 there were very few jobs being advertised, and when there were jobs becoming available, the employer always seemed to have a convenient excuse as to why a person fresh out of university was not suitable. Take for example the Caulfield hospital requiring an assistant accountant. I applied for the job, and the jerk conducting the interview had the cheek to state that my degree was no good, and he made a comparison between the degree qualification and that of the diploma, claiming that the diploma graduate had more practical experience (it was b.s. and probably pointed up his own deficiencies). This experience, which occurred a week after having my tonsils removed, was followed by a bad experience dealing with the Commonwealth Employment Service. The person I dealt with simply had no idea about matching the needs of the client to the experience or otherwise of the applicant. I was sent to an interview for a job where I was clearly not qualified because of my lack of experience, plus I was too young  and because the prospective employer wanted a married woman, older than 25 for the position (the whole thing is laughable).  I did get some better help when I changed to the Moorabbin office of the CES where the people there sent me to a factory job, which was boring but it was for a very short time, and at the end of the original contract I got an extra 2 weeks to do some accounting work. At the same time I was doing part-time cleaning of offices at the CSIRO facility across the road from my home.

This was my reality in 1975/76 and I stayed out of the workforce until 1986 when I ended up with a job, which had nothing to do with my degree with the Australian Public Service.  There were many other graduates who faced similar struggles. One very well-known Arts graduate, and a concientious objector during the Vietnam War period ended up driving trams. That was Albert Langer. My experience left me wondering why I ever bothered trying to get that degree. It was not easy to get to the end of my course but I made it to the end, yet I was left empty and unfulfilled. It was not until about 1991 when there was a bit of a turnaround that I began to use those early acquired skills. In the end, by 1995 I attained my CPA status which also included further study and I did it with 3 children and a full-time job. Then with a change of location, there was more emptiness because the employment agencies pigeon-holed me into doing credit control or debtors management type work.  I left the workforce after I fractured my coccyx for the second time (30 years apart). There was simply no way that I could manage to drive in Sydney to a work destination, and then have to sit all day, then drive home again when I was so darn sore!!!!!!!! On top of that we moved location again, which was a very good reason to not even bother looking for further work. There are other people just like myself who are the hidden unemployed.

This is what I mean by the 1970s redux. There is nothing new about graduates having a tough time finding work. A lot depends upon the economic cycles, and right now we are going through a period of employment contraction, rather than expansion. What must be kept in mind is that it takes 3-4 years to complete a degree. When one starts the course it is often the case that there are plenty of jobs available in the chosen field, yet by the end of a course, it often turns out that the supply and demand situation has peaked and instead of plenty of jobs available it is the opposite reality. In happened in the accounting field during the middle of the 1970s, and it happened in the IT industry by the mid-2000 period. This is because there were more graduates available than there were jobs for them to fill.

The situation is just a sign of the times, and it shows that businesses are worried about the future. My story coincides with the Whitlam era, and the drying up of the accounting jobs was merely a sign of the lack of health in the economy. The same is happening again, only this time Australia is being led by yet another communist Juliar-the Marxist- Gillard (also known as Dullard).






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