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L04 Master of Business by Research
Thesis Proposal
Factors that influence graduate employment outcomes
Naomi Valcan
Edith Cowan University
Pi-Shen Seet and Denise Jackson
Table of Contents
1.1 Background
1.2 Importance of Study
1.3 Statistics
1.4 Contribution of Study
2.1 Employment and Underemployment
2.2 Overqualification
2.3 Theories of Graduate Employment Outcomes
2.3.1 Human Capital Theory
2.3.2 Job Competition Theory2.3.3 Career Mobility Theory2.4 Influences on Post-Graduation Employment
2.4.1 Human Capital Factors Skills and Knowledge Couse Quality Work Experience Institution of Study Summary
2.4.2 Individual Factors Ethnicity Social Class Gender Age Residency Status Disability Summary
2.4.3 Human Capital Factors vs. Individual Factors
2.4.4External Influences on Graduate Employment Graduate Recruitment Bias Structural Mismatch in the Gradate Labour Market Skill Mismatch in the Graduate Labour Market Summary
2.5 Literature gaps

4.1 Principal Research Question
4.2 Sub-Questions
4.3 Hypotheses
5.1 Participants
5.2 Procedures
5.3 Measures
5.3.1 Independent Variables
5.3.2 Outcome Variables
5.4 Analysis

The proposed research will investigate the human capital and individual factors that influence graduate full-time employment outcomes, and underemployment. It will provide a literature review that closely looks at underpinning theories and concepts, while identifying the gaps in the literature, and providing recommendations and directions for future research. A conceptual framework will be used as a backbone for the development of research questions and objectives.
The first part of the proposal will focus on the influence of human capital factors on graduate employment outcomes. Skills and knowledge, course quality, work experience, and the institution of study are relevant human capital factors which play an important role in graduate employment outcomes. Due to data limitations, the focus of the research will be narrowed to three dimensions of skills and knowledge – adaptive skills, foundation skills, teamwork skills – and course quality. The second part of the proposal will explore how graduate’s individual characteristics – such as ethnicity, social class, gender, age, residency status, and disability -can influence graduate employment outcomes.

Human capital and individual factors will be assessed using the Graduate Outcomes Survey and analysed using appropriate statistical techniques in SPSS. The proposed study will help gain a better understanding of the reasons for and challenges of graduate employment in Australia across various positions. This will allow educational institutions to better develop course curricula, build graduate awareness and reduce the discrepancy between job perception and actual recruitment.
1.1 Background
The role of higher education (HE) in society and the economy has faced increased scrutiny since the late 1980s, with governments and employer groups questioning its value and effectiveness of tertiary education (Clarke, 2017). For this reason, much demand has been placed on universities to produce graduates who will contribute in the workplace (Clarke, 2017). While HE significantly increases employment opportunities and is an important stepping-stone for better job positions, changes in the government policy to widen access to HE, moving away from an ‘elitist’ approach has raised concerns (Purcell, Wilton ; Elias, 2007; Pheko ; Molefhe, 2016). For graduates, job prospects have become an increasing concern, with increased student fees compared to a decade ago, increased labour market variability, and greater job insecurity (Pheko ; Molefhe, 2016). Regardless of the increased participation rate in HE, not all undergraduates obtain employment that reflects acquired skills, and abilities (Green ; Henseke, 2016).)
This study will look at how human capital factors, those related to education, and individual factors affect graduate employment outcomes. Human capital factors include skills and knowledge, course quality, work experience, and the institution of study. While these play an important role in determining graduate employment outcomes, due to the restricting data set in the Graduate Outcome Survey (GOS), not all factors will be measured. For instance, the institution of study will not be measured, as the present study will only look at commerce and business graduates from Edith Cowan University. In addition, work experience will not be included in this study, as it is not measured in the GOS. Rather, the study will focus on skills and knowledge in three different areas: adaptive skills, foundation skills, teamwork skills, and will measure course quality by using the proxy “overall degree satisfaction” from the GOS.
The second part of the research will focus on graduate’s individual characteristics, such as ethnicity, social class, gender, age, and residency status. Finally, the study will look at external influences of graduate employment outcomes such as graduate recruitment bias, structured mismatch and skill mismatch in the graduate labour market. However, these factors will not be measured, as the main focus of the study is on human capital and individual factors, rather than external factors.

Figure 1 shows that graduates in 2015 had lowest full-time employment rate, suggesting that post-graduation outcomes have declined in recent years (Productivity Commission, 2006). While Figure 2 shows that university enrolment rates have drastically increased since 1950 (Australian Graduate Survey, 2014). This suggests that there are too many graduates and not enough full-time employment positions to accommodate this increasing number of graduates in recent years.
Figure 1. Australian undergraduate’s full-time employment rates 1982-2015 – four months after completion
Figure 2. Higher education enrolment rates 1950-2014
162560174942500Figure 3, data from Graduate Outlook (2014) shows that 241 employers nominated communication, academic results, and teamwork skills as the three most used selection criteria when recruiting graduates. This suggests that universities should invest in communication, and teamwork skills, to produce job-ready graduates.

Figure 3. Selection criteria used by the employer’s when recruiting graduates
1.3 Importance of Study
Gaining employment following graduation is an important factor in measuring the success of education at a university degree level (Poon, 2016). Investigating the influence of HE on the labour market is important for government, universities, and students who wish to understand the mechanisms by which HE can impact employment. Developing stakeholder understanding may, in turn, provide implications for HE design (Vermeulen & Schmidt, 2008).
The proposed research will investigate the human capital and individual factors that affect graduate full-time employment and underemployment outcomes. This is achieved by providing a literature review, that closely looks at the key theories and concepts relating to these underlying influences and identifying gaps in the literature. Recommendations and direction for future research will also be provided. A conceptual framework is provided and acts as a backbone for the development of research questions and objectives.

Contribution of Study
There are a limited number of studies that look at the influences of both human capital and individual factors on graduate employment outcomes. This study contributes to theory and research by comparing the influence of these two important contributors to graduate employment.
Firstly, this area of research is particularly important for government, universities, and graduates. After completing a degree, many graduates find it challenging to attain degree-relevant employment, questioning the concept of graduate employability from an institutional and individual view (Clarke, 2017). Understanding the skills and knowledge stakeholders expect from graduates can help universities fill the gap between what is expected in the workplace and what is taught in universities. University academics can use this to adjust their HE curriculum to accurately reflect the expected skills, and knowledge required in the workplace.
Secondly, looking at the importance of human capital versus individual factors will reveal whether one plays a more influential role than the other. If there is a significant difference between human capital and individual factors on graduate employment outcomes, it will be valuable to question whether employment heavily relies on HE, or on the individual’s attributes. However, if human capital is significantly more influential than individual factors, then it will be worthwhile investing more attention in designing better HE curriculum. The proposed research will help build on existing research in the area of graduate employment outcomes and will contribute by providing guidance on how Australian universities can design a curriculum that will produce work-ready employees.  
This section of the research report will address five different areas. The first part will focus on defining and explaining the concept of employment, underemployment and overqualification, followed by theories which underpin these concepts. The third part will focus on the influence of human capital factors on post-graduation employment and the fourth part will look at the relationship between individual factors and employment outcomes. In addition, the report will discuss the external influences on graduate employment. Finally, the paper will address gaps in the literature and the importance of this study,
2.1 Employment and Underemployment A substantial body of literature has devoted itself to investigate the factors that influence post-graduation employment (Liu, Thomas ; Zhang, 2010). Most of this focuses on the relationship between HE and employability, which has been explored by a range of stakeholders, such as university recruiters, employers and faculty members (Moy, 2006). Employability is a multi-dimensional concept, it incorporates the ability to attain employment, the individual’s capability to transfer between positions, and ability to achieve career success in a range of different contexts (Finch et al., 2013). Employability outcomes are related to job satisfaction, workplace commitment, and working conditions, whether undertaking casual, part-time or full-time employment (Lam & Gurland, 2008). This concept of employability has a crucial role in informing labour market policy and remains a policy priority for HE policymakers in Western economies (Tomlinson, 2012).
The economic downturn has raised concerns about graduate underemployment which refers to underutilisation of employee’s competencies and characteristics, such as potential income, professional experience, and skills (Moore ; Rosenbloom, 2016). Underemployment usually occurs as a result of social, economic, and technological changes that lead to involuntarily incomplete employment (Cymbranowicz, 2016). This leads to various forms of non-standard employment – such as temporary, short-term, and contingent work (Kim ; Park, 2006). At a macroeconomic level, underemployment represents an ineffective resource that could have contributed to productivity and economic growth (Li, Duncan ; Miranti, 2015). Consequently, underemployment can have a long-term influence on career advancement and is related to employment insecurity (Li, Duncan ; Miranti, 2015).

2.2 Overqualification
One way to measure underemployment is through overqualification, which has been receiving In addition to underemployment, there has been increasing concerns regarding overqualification. This refers to individuals who attain qualifications that exceed the requirements of their job and is associated with lower job satisfaction and higher turnover (Edrogran ; Bauer, 2009). While perceived overqualification (POQ) refers to individual perceptions that someone else with less qualification, experience and knowledge than themselves would be more suitable in their job position (Johnson ; Johnson, 2000; Edrogran ; Bauer, 2009).

Overqualification can have a negative effect on both the individual and society. At a micro level, it has downward pressures on wages and individual job satisfaction. . At a firm level, it affects productivity (Pietro ; Cutillo, 2006; McGuinness ; Sloane, 2011; Verhaest ; Omey, 2008). While, at a macro level, overqualification can be a waste of resources or unproductive investment (Budría ; Moro-Egido, 2009). Overqualified individuals are more likely to earn a lower return on their educational investment, compared to those whose educational level matches their jobs (McGuinness, 2006). From a sociological perspective, overqualification can push less skilled and educated workers into unemployment, affecting their social mobility (Aberg 2003; Buchel 2002).
In one study, it was found that one in five university graduates are overqualified for their job role (Finch, Hamilton, Baldwin ; Zehner, 2013). In another study, McKinsey (2012) showed that 40% of employers indicated that there is a significant skill gap between graduates and entry-level requirements. This implies that HE needs to understand what influences employment outcomes to produce best-fit graduates with the required set of skills, and secondly, to reduce the proportion of new graduates who are overqualified for their job (Finch et al., 2013).

There are various factors that contribute to overqualification, firstly the type of jobs graduates are employed in (Jonbekova, 2015). Graduates who require specific educational credentials – such as health care and teaching – have a lower incidence of overqualification, compared to trade and hospitality sectors that require less specialised education and thus tend to be more prone to overqualification (Boudarbat ; Chernoff, 2012). In addition, Doltion and Vignoles (2008) suggested that discipline contributes to overeducation. They found that graduates from social sciences, art, and language are likely to be more overeducated than graduates in engineering or sciences. Therefore, this implies that the more specific the discipline, the less likely students are to be mismatched than those degrees that embody a general focus.
2.3 Theories of Graduate Employment Outcomes
2.3.1 Human Capital Theory
A prominent theory that focuses on the relationship between HE and graduate employment is human capital theory. This is defined by Becker (1964) as the knowledge and skills acquired by an individual through investment in education, which in turn influences employment and earnings. All individuals attain a certain level of human capital, however, the extent to which this level is achieved is primarily influenced by education, skills, abilities, training, course quality, and the institution of study, (Sanchez, Laanan ; Wiseley 1999).

It is widely acknowledged that participation in HE produces economic benefits, and university graduates earn more compared to high school graduates (Katz ; Murphy, 1992). This is underpinned by human capital, which asserts that university graduates will earn higher job salaries, achieve greater job security, and are less likely to experience periods of unemployment compared to non-graduates (Lovaglio, Vacca ; Verzillo, 2016). Becker (1964) argued that education directly increases student’s productivity and capacity, which results in higher wages. The more highly educated the individual, the more likely the person will be successful in the workplace in terms of both income and job opportunities (Garc ?a-Aracil, 2015). This, therefore, explains the correlation between earnings and the time participated in HE (Pericles Rospigliosi et al., 2014).
2.3.2 Job Competition Theory However, Thurow’s (1975) job competition theory challenges the views of human capital theory by proposing that labour productivity is in fact determined by job characteristics, rather than employee characteristics. It was argued that because of wage competition, investment in education leads to differences in salary level but not job opportunities (Gracia-Aracil, 2015). This approach is based on the view that education serves as a device to signal a candidate’s ability to their potential employers (Spence, 1973). Thurow’s (1975) theory is rooted in the signalling model, proposing that employers use educational attainment to identify those individuals with a certain set of valuable traits (Spence, 1973). The model suggests, that in fact education itself does not enhance productivity, rather employers use it as a signal of candidate’s potential productivity, including their ability to learn on the job (Pericles Rospigliosi et al., 2014). However, the model has been criticized for being too costly and time-consuming, which would be more valuable to find a less expensive and more suitable signal (Hämäläinen & Uusitalo, 2008). Although these models offer opposing views, they both indicate a positive correlation between years of education and earnings (Rodriguez, 2016)2.3.3 Career Mobility TheoryThe theory of career mobility, suggests that overqualified employees may undertake full-time or part-time work, in jobs they are overeducated in because it will provide effective skills useful in future higher-level jobs (Groot & Maassen van den Brink, 2000). Sicherman (1991) found that overqualified employees have less market experience and on-the-job training. Hence, from this perspective, it may be in a graduate’s best interest to spend time in a job where they are overqualified to obtain relevant industry experience for higher-level occupation (Sicherman, 1991). 2.4 Influences on Post-Graduation Employment
2.4.1 Human Capital
Human capital factors are personal factors that influence individuals career advancement, including education, training, skills, abilities, course quality, work experience, and the institution of study (Sanchez, Laanan ; Wiseley 1999). For example, by partaking in job search training, graduates will be able to identify career opportunities and pursue jobs that require a specific level of education and skills, thus, investment in human capital can promote graduate employability (Fugate, Kinicki ; Ashforth, 2004).
Moreover, it has been shown that among all these human capital variables, education and experience are the most influential predictors of career development (Tharenou, Latimer ; Conroy, 1994; Judge, Cable, Boudreau ; Bretz, 1995; Kirchmeyer, 1998). Therefore, while, all human capital factors are important contributors to employment outcomes, due to the restricting data set in the GOS the current study will focus on course quality and skills and knowledge in three different areas: adaptive skills, foundation skills, and teamwork skills. Skills and Knowledge
HE enhances students’ potential to succeed in high-skilled occupations by equipping individuals with the required knowledge and core competencies that are transferable to the workplace. Some common skills include foundation skills, adaptive skills and teamwork. (Bikse, Rivža & Latvian, 2013). Previous research suggests that graduate competencies, influenced by HE, can be analysed at two levels known as technical and generic skills (Bhaerman & Spill, 1988). Grouping employability factors into categories provide a classification system which benefits university educators and employers who aim to increase employability among university graduates (Finch, Hamilton, Baldwin & Zehner, 2013).
Technical Skills
Technical skills are tangible and taught skills which involve working with equipment, data or software required to perform a job task (Laker & Powell, 2011). Technical skills integrate context-specific knowledge and vary across disciplines compared with generic skills (Finch et al., 2013). For example, the technical skills required by a software engineer are different from those needed by a nurse. However, these skills are not valuable if the transfer of these abilities is unsuccessful in the workplace (Laker & Powell, 2011). The extent, to which job-specific skills acquired from HE is transferable, and applied in the job, is known as the process of skill transfer (Laker & Powell, 2011). Applying competencies developed in a specific context, to effectively solve problems and carry out tasks in another, is a conscious procedure, not one that occurs automatically or spontaneously (Ruffino, 2011). For this process to occur, graduates must be aware of the resources at their disposal, identify the similarities among different situation and tasks and understand the skills employed in a certain situation can also be used in another context (Ruffino, 2011). However, this may be difficult for young graduates to accomplish and Rey (2003) suggested that this is due to their lack of experience in recognising the similarity of certain situations.

Generic Skills
Generic skills or adaptive skills are a set of non-academic interpersonal attributes (Chamorro-Premuzic, Bremner, Arteche, Greven & Furnham, 2010). These include broad general knowledge, ability to develop innovative ideas, ability to identify new opportunities, ability to adapt and apply skills in different contexts, capacity to work independently, and the ability to cooperate with others, through teamwork and interpersonal skills (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2010). These skills are usually independent of the formal curriculum and are often not explicitly assessed. They compare with technical and academic knowledge which is content-specific and subject-based and usually formally assessed (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2010). Gallivan, Truex, and Kvasny (2004) identified six generic skills that account for 26% of the mentioned skills on online job advertisements in the USA, including leadership, self-motivation, creativity, communication, interpersonal skills, and organisation.
Generic skills enable students to accomplish academic achievements and attain occupational goals, following graduation (Bennett, Dunne & Carre, 1999). However, Boud (1990) argued that there is an existing gap between what students are required in assessment tasks and what occurs in the workplace. For instance, Leveson (2000) pointed out that verbal communication is a clear example of a skill that is highly valued in the workplace yet less fostered or assessed in university. Therefore, it is important to foster these skills through the study of formal education and academic knowledge and embed them in the learning process (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2010).

However, in addition to formal education, the extent to which students develop these skills during HE also depends on the individual’s own abilities and willingness to develop these attributes (Furnham, Monsen ; Ahmetogul, 2009). It is important to note that trait-like attributes – such as emotional intelligence, motivation and drive – may be more influenced by an individual’s personality, rather than academic teaching or training (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2007; Costa & McCrae, 1992). Couse Quality
There is a wide concern that undergraduate programs are not producing graduates with the lifelong skills needed to succeed in their profession (Shah, Grebennikov & Nair, 2015). Thus, there is a need to understand the characteristics of a quality undergraduate course. A well-designed program and structured course content that encourages self-learning have been related to increased earnings and job satisfaction (Kucel & Vilalta-Buf, 2013).
Gracía-Aracil (2015) found that a well-designed undergraduate program, is broadly focused, academically prestigious, and which it’s content and objectives are known to employers. How organised a program is can affect how students learn and, in turn, influence the way skills and knowledge are acquired (Kember 2004). In addition, the course content is an important factor. Students are more likely to feel motivated to engage in the subject matter if topics are fascinating and coherent, with opportunities to specialize in a subject (Vermeulen ; Schmidt, 2008). A well-structured course should enable individualistic differentiation in learning, allowing individuals to study at their own pace and using learning material altered to their level of skills, and knowledge (Kember 2004). Various studies have found that study programs have a significant effect on employment opportunities, higher earnings, and occupational status (Velden ; Wolbers, 2007; Xu, 2013).
Recently, Muhcina and Moraru (2016) conducted a study with 87 master’s degree students from the University of Constanta who participated in a questionnaire- based research to find the most preferred method of involvement with the labour market. It was found that the most effective way to create strong cooperation between students and organisations was through a database containing job offers by potential employers. Other methods included hosting job fairs, local community and business environment representatives and implementation of project and business simulation activities. Therefore, HE should ensure an integration of various characteristics; the messages passed by the learning culture, the available resources, the learning tasks, and the quality of leaning places when designing the course program (Knight & Yorke, 2003). Work Experience
One way HE institutions can be more responsive to labour needs and contribute to the graduate labour supply is by developing and enhancing student’s employability skills through work experience. (Wilton, 2012; Silva et al., 2016). One common form of work-experience is work-integrated learning (WIL). This process combines theoretical and practical learning, to represent the intersection between the university and the workplace (Jackson, 2015). WIL programs are designed to help students to actively and positively engage in career development, through experiential learning and cooperative education (Jackson ; Wilton, 2016). This is achieved, by incorporating various forms of practicums, placements, internships, fieldwork, and client-based learning (Elijido-Ten ; Kloot, 2015; Rowe, Mackaway, ; Winchester-Seeto, 2012).

Jackson (2015) examined the effects of integrating WIL into Australian HE curriculum by looking at 131 undergraduate individuals who reported their experiences of participating in a work placement part of WIL program. It was found that individuals were encouraged to relate acquired learning from university to what was practised on placement. Secondly, students preferred to know industry expectations related to work performance, however, this was not always achieved, leading to increased stress and anxiety during the process. Finally, the study emphasized the importance of the supervisor role as an instrument to students learning (Jackson, 2015). This study contributed to the wider literature on WIL by strengthening the idea that work placement is important for producing national economic growth and determining what characteristics makes a good placement (Wilton, 2012).
However various challenges can hinder the effective use of WIL. Cleary (2013) suggested that a lack of managerial support in the workplace can inhibit career development. Furthermore, inadequate learning environment and poorly designed programs can prevent students from learning effectively during placement and failure to meet required standards put in place by the host employers (Procter, 2011). Therefore, it is crucial for WIL programs designers to produce programs that reflect employer’s requirements, are interactive, and managers should offer support and guidance throughout this learning process (Cleary, 2013). Institution of Study
The academic reputation attached to the institution of study can influence an employer’s choice of candidates (Finch et al., 2013). Various researchers examined how student’s retention and perception are influenced by institutional image, it’s branding, rankings and program structures (Pampaloni, 2010; Sauer ; O’Donnell, 2006). However, only a few studies have investigated the relationship between academic reputation and employability, making this an important relationship for exploration (Finch et al., 2013). Afzal (2010) argued that university quality can be measured using eight dimensions: design, delivery, and assessment; recognition of institution, guidance, student representation, non-academic-facilities, academic facilities, study opportunities, and size of enrolled students.

The university attended can influence how organisations conduct their screening process under times of uncertainty (Hazelkorn, 2008). Murray and Robinson (2001) reported that large graduate recruiters tend to target universities with a reputation for producing high-quality graduates, based on previous recruitment experience. This is because higher-quality universities have been associated with the student’s motivation, skills, commitment, and personal attributes which will be rewarded in the future labour market (Dale ; Krueger, 2002).

Jackson (2014) showed that highly prestigious institutions are favoured in Australia. This was supported by Li and Miller (2013) who proposed that graduates from world-ranked universities have a less chance of being employed in overqualified jobs. The reason some institutes are more likely to bring success to graduate’s future careers over others depends on their ability to attract financial resources and students with different forms of resources (Berggren, 2010). However, it is important to take into consideration the student’s socioeconomic factors, including family characteristics, parental and network support, which can also affect graduates employability outcomes (Hoekstra, 2009). Thus, some individuals may produce greater salary and employment outcomes, despite the university attended. Summary
Skills and knowledge, course quality, work experience, and the institution of study are all dimensions of human capital and play an important role in graduate employment outcomes. It would be worthwhile for future studies to look at all these factors, however due to the limited data set and the purpose of this present study, the focus will be narrowed to course quality and skills and knowledge measured at three levels: adaptive skills, foundation skills, and teamwork skills.
2.4.2 Individual FactorsPoon (2015) argued that the most important set of individual characteristics that affect graduate employment include gender, ethnicity, age, and English language. This is aligned with various previous studies that have also argued these to be most influential individual attributes (Casplan ; Giham, 2005; Lim, 2010, Devaney ; Roberts, 2012). Ethnicity
Ethnicity has been identified as a contributory factor towards graduate employment (Casplan ; Gilham, 2005; Lim, 2010). It is widely reported that ethnic minority students tend to drop out of university more, compared to native students, and on average attain lower grades (Eimers ; Pike, 1997; Hobson-Horton ; Owens, 2004; Meeuwisse, Severiens, ; Born, 2010). A significant change in employer’s expectations is the rise of relevant work-related experience, which positively influences hiring decisions (Derous & Ryan, 2008; Knouse, 1994). Therefore, many students engage in part-time jobs, to attain experience before entering the workforce, and to gain a competitive advantage, by facilitating a smooth transition from university to work (Hiemstra, Derous, Serlie & Born, 2013). Through work-relevant jobs, students actively build their resumes, important for their future careers, while earning a salary (Derous & Ryan, 2008).

However, ethnic minority students usually come from lower socioeconomic families, who are required to take additional jobs usually for financial reasons, rather than building valuable resumes, thus undertaking less work-related experience, or unpaid internships (Hiemstra et al., 2013). Research conducted in the Netherlands showed that ethnic minorities are faced with more challenges when looking for relevant internships, having less work-related supervisory positions and experience than majority entrants (Hiemstra et al., 2013). Social Class
Secondly, graduates social class can also influence their insertion and success in the labour market (Smith, & Naylor, 2001). It was found that 30% of graduates with parents in partly skilled occupations, were more likely not to earn a graduate position 18 months post-graduation, and 80% risk of unemployment for graduates with no employed parents (Smith & Naylor, 2001). Three and a half years post-graduation, graduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds earned between 6-10% less compared to individuals with parents employed in managerial, and technical occupations (Stuart, Lido, Morgan, Solomon & May 2011).

Graduates from lower social classes are more likely to experience education and skill mismatch employment, compared to their counterparts (Jonbekova, 2015).

These graduates are likely to undertake jobs that do not fit their education during peaks of unemployment, as skills mismatch is related to geographical location (Velden & Wolbers, 2007). According to Kalleberg (2008), in some cases individuals cannot make effective use of their skills if they live in remote areas making it difficult to travel to places where suitable jobs are located. Gender
Gender differences are addressed in the literature as one of the most influential demographic characteristics that can influence graduate employment outcomes (Poon, 2016). The participation rate for Australian women in the labour market has drastically changed, from 36.3% in 1966 to 58.9% in June 2012 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012; Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1993).

Regardless of the high number of females attending HE, which outperform male students, females continue to experience more difficulty in entering the workforce (Grebennikov & Skaines, 2009). It is reported that male graduates tend to be more favoured at the beginning of their careers, indicating higher levels of satisfaction with their career choices compared to female graduates (Gracía-Aracil, 2009). Females also tend to benefit less from career experiences – including involvement in extra-curricular activities, training, and work experience – as a result of commitments in other non-work-related areas not related to work (Clegg & Stevenson, 2010). Such findings propose that female’s patterns of employment are strongly influenced by their dependent care responsibilities and are significantly more likely to request temporary, or permanent withdrawal from full-time employment, than males (Tannous ; Smith, 2013). Furthermore, women graduates are more likely to experience gender discrimination in the workplace, which has been negatively related to career success (Maxwell ; Broadbridge, 2014). Hiring based on whether the job is considered more suitable for men or women can lead to gender-based discrimination in hiring decisions (Cohen and Bunker, 1975; Kottke and Agars, 2005).
From the relevant literature, it is evident that gender plays a role in how male and female graduates navigate their career pathways differently, and how hiring decisions can be partially made based on gender (Monteiro, Almeida ; Aracil, 2016; Bendick ; Nunes, 2012). Therefore, further focus in this area is needed to promote more equal opportunities in the transition, and integration of the workforce (Monteiro et al., 2016). Age
Age has been identified as another influential individual factor that affects graduates employment outcomes (Devaney ; Roberts, 2012; Urwin ; Di Pietro, 2005). However, only a few studies have looked at how employment outcomes differ between mature-aged students (Egerton ; Parry, 2001). Mature-aged graduates refer to individuals over the age of 21 when entering HE (Woodley ; Wilson 2002).
Smith, McKnight ; Naylor (2000), that showed male graduates over the age of 33 are more likely to be unemployed, or less active in the labour market, compared to male graduates under the age of 24. Similarly, female graduates between the age of 24 and 33 are less likely to be employed compared to younger graduates (Smith et al., 2000). This implies that mature-aged students experience more risks entering HE, such as acquiring less working hours (Chesters ; Watson, 2014).
In another study, it was found by Woodley and Wilson (2002) that graduates over the age of 40 were more likely to be employed under part-time conditions and are less likely to work in professional or managerial positions. Egerton (2000) attributed these outcomes to the likelihood of mature students attending less prestigious universities and their inability to travel distances due to family commitments, thus limiting university choices. Furthermore, mature students are more prone to receiving lower returns from their educational investment as they have a shorter period to outweigh the costs to make a return in the labour market, compared to younger graduates (Egerton ; Parry, 2001). This may reflect mature graduates’ tendency to work in the public service jobs within the welfare sector, where pay and working conditions have decreased with a negative return on HE (Chesters & Watson, 2014).

From the existing body of knowledge in this area, we know that mature-aged graduates are usually at a disadvantage, and have more negative employment outcomes, compared to their younger counterparts (Woodfield, 2011). However, further exploration is needed to gain a deeper insight into how employment status, earnings and working hours differ between these age groups. Also, we need to better understand the motives behind why mature-aged student enter HE, if poorer outcomes are expected, whether students are poorly informed about the returns to HE, to increase chances of promotion in current occupation or reduce the chances of unemployment (Chesters & Watson, 2014). Residency Status
It is important, to investigate the influence of residency, on graduate employment outcomes, as international education has become an important focus for universities worldwide, with double the rate of students between 2000 and 2010 now studying outside their country of citizenship (Altbach & Knight, 2007).
International education produces multiple benefits: socially, economically, politically, culturally and intellectually (Universities Australia, 2015; Australian Government, 2015). Many universities have identified the value of adopting an international perspective by incorporating international elements into university graduate attribute statements (Cranmer, 2006). International experience has been related to learning, employability, developing core graduate competencies, and cultural sensitivity (Chan & Dimmock, 2008; Teichler, 2004; Clarke, 2005).
Despite, the recognised need of an international perspective, not much attention has been given to the relationship between international students’ university experience and graduate employability (Crossman ; Clarke, 2010). It is important, that Australian HE institutions understand employment outcome differences between international and domestic students as it is the largest host country for international students with more than 400,000 enrolments, in 2012 (AEI, 2012)

Wiers-Jenssen and Try (2005) found that international Norwegian graduates experienced more difficulties in entering the national labour market, with higher chances of unemployment, or employed in over-educated positions, compared to domestic graduates. Similarly, Faggian, Corcoran ; Rowe (2016) showed that international graduates experienced greater employment in lower skilled occupations, a higher mismatch to their field of study, and a significant salary gap than their domestic graduates.

The greatest identified barrier for international and domestic graduates, entering the professional world is the lack of work experience, which is regarded as a fundamental value to the cultural capital for HE and employment (Jackson, 2014; AUIDF, 2013). International experience is a collective concept that incorporates activities such as student exchange or study abroad, internships, international volunteer work, and casual employment (Crossman ; Clarke, 2010). Therefore, universities should offer international graduates the opportunity to engage in these activities to obtain employment-ready skills.

One effective way to help international students enhance their employability skills is through work-interrelated learning (WIL) by developing soft skills, including team building, self-efficacy, confidence, positive self-concept and the motivation to produce learning outcomes (Drysdale, McBeath, Johansson, Dressler ; Zaitseva, 2016). Furthermore, WIL benefits students by helping gain a clear understanding of the skills and job performance standards expected from them (Jackson, 2015). DisabilityIt is well established throughout the literature that student with disabilities lags far behind their counterparts regarding postsecondary attendance, employment rates, and experience far greater difficulties entering the job market (Benz, Lindstrom ; Yovanoff, 2000). It is highly important to look at the relationship between disability and employment as employment strongly affects individual’s quality of life, self-esteem, independence and is an indicator of success in society (Lindsrorm, Doren & Miesch, 2011). Gerber (2012) described employment as the pivotal, and the most important element for independence, giving a sense of autonomy to adulthood.

Various studies have repeatedly showed that employees with disabilities encounter greater job insecurity, poorer employment status, and experience overrepresentation in part-time and entry-level job positions, or underemployment, compared to non-disability graduates (Kaye 2009; Konrad, Moore, Ng, Doherty & Breward, 2013; Schur, Kruse, Blasi & Blanck, 2009). Similarly, Zarifa, Walters and Seward (2015) found in a study that drew findings from the 2005 cohort of Statistics Canada’s National Graduates Survey that graduates with disabilities were more likely to be employed in part-time roles, or unemployed, than employed in full-time positions, and were twice as likely than their non-disability counterparts of being unemployed two years post-graduation. Theories of cumulative advantages propose that these inequalities in the population will further increase and the earning gap with continue to expand over time (DiPrete ; Eirich, 2006).

More recently, Homes and Silvestri (2011) looked at the employment experiences of Ontario university graduates with learning disabilities and found that only 69% of college and university graduates with learning disabilities were employed either in part-time or full-time positions. A potential explanation that can account for these limiting employment opportunities for graduates with disabilities in the labour market, is inherent discriminatory behaviour against those with a disability (Holloway 2001; Holmes and Silvestri 2011; Shier, Graham ; Jones, 2009).

Various effective ways can be adapted to decrease the negative effects of disability on employment outcomes through family advocacy, community support, and involvement in career-related activities (Zarifa, Walters ; Seward, 2015). Secondly, active participation in vocational coursework and community-based work experience increases the chances of employment among disability graduates (Rabren, Dunn, ; Chambers, 2002). Furthermore, many studies have shown that transition planning helps engage students with disabilities and promote various career options essential for obtaining positive employment outcomes Lindstrom, Doren ; Miesch, 2011). Summary
Individual attributes are those personal, innate attributes – such as ethnicity, social class, gender, age, residency status and disability – that influence graduate employment outcomes. Table 1 summaries the influence of individual factors on graduate employment outcomes.
-876300366395Table 1 Summary of individual characteristics
00Table 1 Summary of individual characteristics

Gender Age
What is we know? Gender differences, is addressed in the literature as one of the most important demographic characteristics that influences graduate employment outcomes and focuses on how it affects students transition into the labour market (Poon, 2016). Age has been identified as influential individual factor that affects graduates employment outcomes (Devaney ; Roberts, 2012; Urwin ; Di Pietro, 2005).
What is we don’t know? Gender differences, and gender discrimination in the workplace is not a new topic in literature, as a lot of work has been dedicated to this area (Cohen and Bunker, 1975; Kottke and Agars, 2005). However, these issues are still very present in the workplace, thus more attention and promotion are needed to further reduce this problem. Only a few studies have looked at how employment outcomes differ between mature-aged students (Egerton & Parry, 2001). We do not know how employment status, positions, earning, and working hours differ between these two age groups.
So, What? Further focus is needed in this area to promote more equal opportunities in the transition, and integration of the workforce (Monteiro et al., 2016).

To better understand the motives behind why mature-aged student enter HE, if poorer outcomes are expected, whether students are poorly informed about the returns to HE, to increase chances of promotion in current occupation, or reduce the chances of unemployment (Chesters & Watson, 2014).
Who Cares? Graduates and universities. Higher education institutions, because it is in their interest universities to acquire high rates of graduate employment, following graduation. Students, because it is in their interest to have sound awareness of the challenged entering the workplace. Students have a concern whether they will make a return on their investment in HE, because it is one of the main reasons students choose to study to enhance their career prospects. Therefore, students weigh the advantages, disadvantages and cost, before investing in HE (Clarke, 2017). It is in student’s own interest to understand the machismos by which HE can impact employment.

Ethnicity Residency Disability
What is we know? Ethnic minority students tend to drop out of university more, compared to native students, and on average attain lower grades (Eimers ; Pike, 1997; Hobson-Horton ; Owens, 2004; Meeuwisse, Severiens, ; Born, 2010). International education has become an important focus for universities worldwide, (Altbach ; Knight, 2007). It produces multiple benefits: socially, economically, politically, culturally and intellectually (Universities Australia, 2009; Australian Government, 2015).

It is well established throughout the literature that student with disabilities lag far behind their non-disabled counterparts regarding postsecondary attendance, employment rates, and experience far greater difficulties with the job market (Benz, Lindstrom ; Yovanoff, 2000).

What is we don’t know? Research conducted in the Netherlands showed that ethnic minorities are faced with more challenges when looking for relevant internships, because they have less work-related supervisory positions and experience than majority entrants (Hiemstra et al., 2013). Not much attention has been given to the relationship between international students’ university experience and graduate employability (Crossman ; Clarke, 2010). Theories of cumulative advantages, propose that these inequalities in the population, will further increase, and the earning gap with continue to expand over time (DiPrete ; Eirich, 2006).

So, What? One way HE institutions can be more responsive to labour needs for student from ethnic minority background, is by developing and enhancing student’s employability skills through work experience. (Wilton, 2012; Silva et al., 2016) It is important, that Australian HE institutions understand employment outcome differences between international and domestic students as it is the largest host country for international students with more than 400,000 enrolments, in 2012 (AEI, 2012) It is highly important to look at the relationship between disability and employment as employment strongly affects individual’s quality of life, self-esteem, independence and is an indicator of success in society (Lindsrorm, Doren ; Miesch, 2011).

Who Cares? This integration is valuable for universities, because it enhances work readiness skills, with the focus on developing soft skills including team building; self-efficacy, confidence, positive self-concept; and the motivation to produce learning outcomes (Drysdale, McBeath, Johansson, Dressler ; Zaitseva, 2016).

WIL benefits students by helping gain a clear understanding of the skills, and job performance standards expected from them (Jackson, 2015). International education is especially important for universities, because it is in their interest to produce internationally employable graduates, to increase rankings. Employers target those institutions that produce knowledgeable and skilful graduates, who have a sense of cultural and internal awareness (Vermeulen ; Schmidt, 2008). This is important for government, universities, and students whom wish to understand the mechanisms by which HE can impact employment, and in turn, provide implications for HE design (Vermeulen ; Schmidt, 2008).

2.4.3 Human Capital Factors vs. Individual Factors
From the provided literature review, we can acknowledge that both human capital and individual factors are highly important predictors of graduate employment outcomes. However, now we ask the question: “which one is a stronger predictor”?
It is well established in the literature that when selecting graduates, employers gravitate to those with higher human capital because they are believed to be better equipped to perform in their employment (González-Romá, Gamboa ; Peiró, 2018). Becker (1964) argued that investment in education increases graduates value in their employment. Similarly Ng, Eby, Sorensen and Feldman (2005) showed that investment in education and training is linked to higher salary and increased promotion. We therefore hypothesize that human capital factors contribute more to graduate employment outcomes than individual factors.

2.4.4 External Influences on Graduate Employment
It is unlikely, that the process of selecting graduates relies either purely on human capital. or job competition model, in many cases it incorporates elements of both types of selection (Garc ??a-Aracil, 2015). For example, both theories assume that employers behave rationally and select candidates with the highest expected productivity and expected costs of the training process required for these employees. This, however, is not necessarily the case with evidence of inherent bias in graduate recruitment, a structural mismatch in the graduate labour market, and skill mismatch in the graduate labour market (Bendick ; Nunes, 2012; Green ; Henseke, 2016; Di Pietro ; Urwin, 2006).). Graduate Recruitment Bias
Inherit bias in graduate recruitment processes by race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability continue to distort employers hiring decisions and, in turn, limit employment opportunities (Bendick ; Nunes, 2012). Prejudice is defined as unfair negative attitudes towards a social group which can occur at a blatant level or at a subtle level manifested indirectly (Dovidi, 2001). Managers with stronger prejudiced attitudes are more likely to avoid hiring minority applicants (Carlsson ; Rooth, 2007; Coates ; Carr, 2005; Tiboulet, Dambrun, Tourret, ; Uhlen, 2012).
Horverak, Sandal, Bye and Pallesen (2013) investigated the relationship between managers hiring preferences of foreign-born job applicants, prejudice, and multicultural personality traits. It was found that it was more likely that managers would hire a less qualified Norwegian-born applicant over the Turkish immigrant candidate. This finding aligns with the attraction theory and research on in-group bias (Byrne, 1997; Turban ; Jones, 1988) which suggested that individuals gravitate towards those who share similar attributes, to establish a sense of interpersonal attraction, leading to more positive evaluations, and derogate those of the out-group (Tajfel, 1982). This explains why managers are more inclined to select native applicants, compared to foreign-born candidates.
Furthermore, studies have constantly found a relation between recruitment bias and personality traits, suggesting that stereotypical beliefs and attitudes derive from one or more personality traits (Ekehammar ; Akrami, 2003). For instance, those individuals who score low on openness to experience, tend to be more prejudiced (Duckitt ; Sibley, 2009). Finally, prejudicial attitudes and stereotyping can affect interviewer perceptions of applicants and subtle cues such as applicants accent can trigger implicit discriminatory responses (Segrest Purkiss, 2006). Segrest and Purkiss (2006) found that applicants with ethnic names, and who spoke with an accent, were viewed less positively by the interviews compared to those without an accent or applicants with non-ethnic names.

Theses process can consequently lead to employment decisions based on the categorisation of members based on gender or ethnicity, and social relationships created through networking, rather than candidate’s abilities (Bendick & Nunes, 2012). Therefore, organisations must adopt strategies to control bias which can potentially distort recruitment decisions through highly structured hiring procedures and training hiring decision makers (Kochan, Bezrukova, Ely, Jackson, Joshi, Jehn, & Thomas, 2003). Structural Mismatch in the Graduate Labour Market
A second external factor which influences graduate employment or underemployment is a structural mismatch in the graduate labour market and this has drastically increased in the past two decades (Green & Henseke, 2016).
The rise of globalisation and technology has catalysed a shift in HE from an elite to a mass system, leading to the growth of diversity within the supply of qualified labour (Purcell, Wilton & Elias, 2007). However, the increase of HE attainment has raised concerns that the occupational structure of the labour market lacks the capacity to absorb the high number of educated employees into previously traditional graduate jobs (Dolton & Silles, 2008). In turn, this expansion can have negative consequences on pay, career opportunities, skill utilisation, and increased competition, among graduates to attain employment (Green & Henseke, 2016).
A major factor that causes this discrepancy is an education-labour mismatch which refers to the level of discord between an individual’s job performance and their education and skills (Croce ; Ghignoni, 2012). This involves three different dimensions of mismatch; vertical mismatch – under/overeducation, horizontal mismatch – the extent to which an individual’s educational field reflects their occupational field, and skill mismatch – under/over-skilled employees (Nordin, Persson, & Rooth, 2010).
An employee is considered overeducated if their acquired education level exceeds the education required to carry out their job, while undereducated employees have less education required to deliver job requirements (Groot & Maassen van den Brink, 2000). Furthermore, it has been shown that mismatched employees receive less training than matched workers, which may impede an individual’s career mobility (Buchel and Mertens 2004). Skill Mismatch in the Graduate Labour Market
Another external factor that influences graduate employment or underemployment is skill mismatch in the graduate labour market. This can negatively affect employability outcomes, leading to underemployed or over/underskilled graduates (Di Pietro ; Urwin, 2006). An individual is over-skilled when their skills are minimally utilised in their current job and considered underskilled if their present job demands more knowledge than the individual can offer (Di Pietro ; Urwin, 2006). Employment, education, and socioeconomic factors have all been found to influence skill mismatch (Jonbekova, 2015). Employment factors can create a sense of discrepancy between the expectations and requirements of graduates and employers, for instance, the value employers place on different skills may differ from those acquired by graduates (Jonbekova, 2015). In addition, employer’s requirements may have changed due to technological advancement which can cause certain skills to lose their relevance and value over time while the value of other skills may increase (Gracia-Aracil & Van der Velden, 2007).

Employers usually criticize graduates for needing intensive training before becoming an asset to the organisation because they are wired solely based on principles and theories while lacking practical training (Crebert, Bates, Bell, Patrick & Cragnolini, 2004). It has been shown that employers in most developed countries are more likely to look for personal and intellectual attributes, beyond individual’s subject knowledge and skills which are traditionally embedded into HE (Harvey, 2000; Teichler, 2007; Tymon, 2013). These transferable skills include critical, analytical, interpersonal, team-work, leadership and problem-solving skills which are important for developing business awareness and knowledge of the real world (Kavanagh ; Drennan, 2008). Summary
Employment and underemployment cannot be explained solely by a graduate’s education and skills, the labour market must also be taken into consideration (Jonbekova, 2015). Research on structural mismatch has offered various useful implications for graduate employment outcomes. Firstly, underemployment can occur because of insufficient jobs due to lack of demand in the labour market, opposed to candidate’s inability or inadequate skills, to succeed in a job (Green ; Henseke, 2016). Secondly, job mobility and time spent in unemployment can result in precarious labour market position and, in this case, individuals are more likely to undertake non-graduate occupations (Diem ; Wolter, 2014). This means that individuals are employed but in jobs in which they are over/undereducated or over/underskilled, based on the idea that any kind of job is better than nothing (Di Pietro ; Urwin, 2006). Finally, research shows that there is an increasing fear that HE curriculum is becoming of lesser value for employers and teaching staff are unable to invest sufficient time and efforts into educating many students (Robert, 2014).
2.5 Literature Gaps
At present, according to Jackson (2014), there is a lack of empirical evidence regarding graduate employment in Australia. This research will focus on the employment outcomes of Australian business and commerce undergraduates from an Australian university.. This cohort is highly important given employability is a major focus for business schools (Avramenko, 2012). In the past, business schools have been criticised for not developing student’s employability skills, such as entrepreneurship, team building, communication, and interpersonal skills (Hay, 2008). Therefore, more investigation is needed to understand this skill gap to provide universities with future direction regarding course curriculum taught in business schools (Bell, 2016). Secondly, Jackson (2014) suggested that future studies should explore beyond full-time employment. Thus, the present study will look to examine the influence of individual factors on perceived overqualification, in addition to full-time employment.
The conceptual model is based on the literature review and will be used to develop the research questions, hypothesis and objectives. The Mmodel 1 illustrates four different areas that influence graduate employment outcomes. Under each main heading, there are various subheadings which comprise factors that will be measured using the Graduate Outcome Survey (GOS). Those factors highlighted in red will not be studied due to the limitations in the GOS. For instance, the institution of study – while it is an important contributory factor – will not be measured as the present study will only look at commerce and business graduates from Edith Cowan University. Secondly, work experience will not be included in the study as it is not measured in the GOS. Finally, external factors are not gauged in the GOS. While model 2 illustrates all the dimesnions of human capital and individual factors that will be studied in the current study. -39052528384500
Model 1. Influencers of graduate employment outcomes
-28575032956500Model 2. Studied influencers of graduate employment outcomes 4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS HYPOTHESIS & OBJECTIVES
The following research questions and hypothesis have been designed based on the provided literature. The study has been designed to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, and address some of the gaps present in the literature.
4.1 Principal Research Question To what extent do human capital and individual factors influence employment outcomes among Australian business graduates from an Australian university.4.2 Sub-Questions
RQ1: What is the extent to which human capital factors influence the employment outcomes of graduates from an Australian university.H1a. Graduates who obtain the required foundation skills are more likely to attain full-time employment than those who do not possess these skills.

H1b. Graduates who have well-developed adaptive skills are more likely to be employed in full-time positions compared to those who do not.

H1c. Graduates who possess team working skills are more likely to obtain full-time employment post-graduation than those who do not.

H1d. Graduates enrolled in a well-designed undergraduate course are more likely to obtain full-time employment compared to graduates enrolled in low-quality courses.
RQ2: What is the extent to which individual factors influence the employment outcomes of business graduates from an Australian university?
H2a. Graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to obtain full-time employment compared to their counterparts.
H2b. Graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to be overqualified in their job positions than graduates from non-ethnic minority backgrounds.
H2c. Graduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to be in full-time employment, compared to graduates from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
H2d. Graduates from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to be overqualified in their job positions, compared to graduates of a higher socioeconomic status.
H2e. Following graduation, male graduates are more likely to obtain full-time employment compared to female graduates.

H2f. Male graduates are less likely to be overqualified in their job positions, compared to female graduates.
H2g. Younger graduates are more likely to attain full-time employment than mature age graduates.

H2h. Mature age graduates are more likely to be overqualified in their job positions, compared to younger graduates.
H2i. International graduates are less likely to secure full-time employment after graduation, compared to domestic graduates.

H2j. International graduates are more likely to be overqualified in their job positions, compared to domestic graduates.
H2k. Graduates with a disability, are less likely to secure full-time employment post-graduation, compared with those graduates who do not have a disability.

H2l. Graduates with a disability are more likely to be overqualified in their job positions, compared to their counterparts.
RQ3: What is the extent to which human capital and individual factors contribute to graduate employment outcomes?
H3a. Human capital factors contribute more to graduate employment outcomes than individual factors.

The present study will use data derived from the GOS to measure how foundation skills, adaptive skills, teamwork skills, course design, gender, age, social class, residency and ethnicity influence graduate employment outcomes among Management and Commerce undergraduates from Edith Cowan University. All data that will be accessed in this study is non-identifiable, and the data was provided by the ECU Surveys Manager, who de-identified the data set. Clear instructions were given and explained that the use of data is strictly used for the purposed of research outlined in this proposal. No additional permission was needed as ECU has a higher level arrangement with the Social Research Centre on the use of GOS data for research purposes.
5.1 Participants
The current sample consists of 429 undergraduate students who were classified as completing a bachelor’s degree in Management and Commerce at Edith Cowan University in 2015. The sample all participated in the 2016 Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) yet 72 participants failed to respond to all items, therefore the sample was reduced to 357 participants. The mean age of the sample was 29.59 years (SD=9.4) and comprised 204 females and 153 males. This sample is comprised of graduates who, at the time of the survey, were employed in full-time positions, or seeking full-time employment upon course completion. The GOS, adopted a centralised sampling approach based on data obtained from the Higher Education Information System (HEIMS), to ensure consistency and robust sampling methodology across all HE institutions.

Table 2 Summary of characteristics of Management and Commerce Bachelor’s degree graduates
Individual Attributes Sub-group 2016
n Valid%
Gender Female (0)
Male (1)
153 57.1
Age (years)
Residency Status
Disability Status 0-19
Domestic (0)
International (1)
No Disability (0)
Disability (1) 18
Employment Status In Full-Time Employment (0)
Seeking Full-Time Employment (1) 248
109 57.8
-342900-114300Table 2 Breakdown of sample characteristics
00Table 2 Breakdown of sample characteristics
5.2 Procedures
Bachelor graduates classified as having studied in the field of Management and Commerce received an emailed invitation to participate in the GOS four to six months following completion of their degree. The GOS is an Australian national survey, administrated under the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT), and funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. It aims to gather information about graduate’s labour market outcomes and further study activities. It also comprises the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) which measures graduates’ satisfaction with coursework experience and the Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire (PREQ) which focuses on the satisfaction of postgraduate research experience. The current study draws data from GOS and part of the CEQ that focuses on undergraduate course review.
The GOS is administered online to both domestic and international students and takes place twice a year, once in November for mid-year graduates and once in May for those end-of-year graduates. In 2016, the GOS was conducted across 96 Australian higher education institutions and, in total, 104,208 valid survey responses were collected from all study levels, which represented a response rate of 39.7%.
5.3 Measures
5.3.1 Independent Variables
Graduates were required to respond to various questions, regarding their HE studies and employment outcomes post-course completion. The present study will measure human capital factors, those variables associated with soft and hard skill development, and how well the undergraduate course was designed. Firstly, skills will be measured by the graduate attributes items in four different areas: foundation skills, adaptive skills, and teamwork and interpersonal skills. How many items in each of these skill categories and direct the reader to where they will be defined (i.e. Table X). For each skill, graduates had to respond to which extent they agree or disagree, on a five-item Likert scale (1= strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree) that their course provided them with each skill. Respondents were given an option to select ‘not applicable’ for each of the skills. Finally, the study will use the outcome variable “students satisfaction” as a proxy to measure course quality using a single questionnaire item – “overall, I was satisfied with the quality of this course”. Respondents rated this item using a five-point scale (1= strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree).
Finally, individual factors – including, social class age, gender, residency, ethnicity and disability – will be measured. Social class will be measured by the measure ‘first-in-family’, as either 1 = ‘not first in family’, or 2 = ‘first in family’. Age is measured in the survey as a continuous variable and residency status classifies graduates as either ‘domestic or international’ students at the time of course enrolment. Gender is measured as either ‘male or female’, and disability was classified as graduates ‘either or without a disability’. Ethnicity is measured using an indigenous indicator. State why the other factors are not measured- reiterate there are not suitable measures in the survey!
5.3.2 Outcome Variables
Participants were questioned on whether they were employed or seeking employment at the time of completing the survey. If employed, graduates were asked if they had accepted an offer or employed in a full-time position (considered as 35 hours or more per week), part-time employment, or were unemployed. For those seeking employment, they were asked whether they are looking for part-time or full-time employment. This enabled the calculation of AVAILFT1, an outcome variable which categorises graduates who are available for full-time employment as either employed in full-time or seeking full-time employment.
OverqualificationUnderemploymentGraduates were asked if they were over-qualified for their current job position, using the Scale of Perceived Over-Qualification (SPOQ). This is a common way of measuring overqualification, also used by Johnson and Johnson (2000) and Zheng and Wang (2017). This measure consists of eight questions regarding graduate’s individual perceptions of being overqualified. Graduates responded on a five-point agreement scale and received a score between 1 (strongly disagree and 5(strongly agree). An average scale score of 3.5 or higher defines a graduate as being overqualified, based on their perception that that current job position does not allow their skills or education to be utilised to their fullest.

5.4 Analysis
The present study will adopt a quantitative data analysis approach and the data will be analysed in two ways. Firstly, age will be calculated as students age upon degree completion, classified in five groups: 0-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-39, and 40+, and gender will be measure by 1= Female and 2= Female. Binary logistic regression was used to examine variations in the achievement of full-time employment by demographic and human capital factors. This approach has been used by others (see, for example, Jackson 2014; Jackson and Collings, 2017) and is recommended by Hair, Black, Babin and Anderson (2010). For the logistic regression, the predictor variables were categorical and the base categories are denoted in Table 1 by 1.Variations in underemployment will be examined by conducting a series of MANOVAS to examine variations in the Scale of Perceived Overqualification (SPOQ) scale by the individual and human capital factors.
From the great body of work dedicated to this area, we understand that the transition from HE into the labour market is a complex process and one that requires detailed analysis (Monica, Cordite ; Adrian, 2011). This transition is conditioned by the interaction between multiple external factors: the characteristics of the educational system, labour market, and internal factors which guide the decisional process of graduates (Müller, 2005). Macrostructural factors, graduate’s cohort sizes, traditional and new graduate jobs, labour market regulations and occupational structure all influence graduates transition into the labour market (Gangl, 2002; Breen, 2005). Therefore, it is crucial to approach this phenomenon as an interrelation of many factors, rather than attributing graduate employment, or underemployment, solely to one factor.
Rising participation in HE has led to an oversupply of graduates and there is insufficient demand in the labour market to employ the pool of new graduates (Green & Henseke, 2016). This study aims to explore the different influences on graduate employment outcomes to better understand which graduates may be more disadvantaged than others in their bid to secure quality employment. This study will narrow its focus on the influential role of human capital and individual attributes on employment outcomes among Australian business graduates from an Australian university. Not only will it adopt a multi-dimensional focus, it will broaden research in this area by examining not only full-time employment outcomes but also underemployment and overqualification.
Investigating the role of HE on the labour market will allow us to understand the mechanisms by which HE influences employment and, in turn, identify the implications for its design (Vermeulen & Schmidt, 2008). Human capital and individual factors will be assessed using the Graduate Outcome Survey (GOS 201), which does not test for graduate inherit bias, or structural mismatch, while research on these external factors is used to help build the backbone and theoretical foundation for the research. Finally, the present research will go beyond understanding employment and overqualificationunderemployment, it will examine skill development levels and their impact on employment. It will be worthwhile to see which out of the three skills (foundation skills, adaptive skills, or teamwork) is the most influential and will provide future direction in invention more resources to this skill.
The present study will examine the influence of adaptive skills, foundation skills, teamwork skills, and course quality on full-time employment. The second part of the study will look at how ethnicity, social class, gender, age, residency, and disability influence full-time employment and underemployment (perceived overqualification). Finally, the last part of the study will examine the influence of human capital factors and individual factors on employment outcomes. This will help gain a better understanding of the reasons and challenges of graduate employment, in Australia, and allow educational institutions to better develop course curricula, build graduate awareness and reduce the discrepancy between job perception and actual recruitment.

The study will use secondary data (GOS), to examine the variations in graduate employment by human capital and individual characteristics. Variations exist and hold implications for educators regarding how they are catering to different student’s groups when embedding employability interventions into the curriculum, as well as career development learning. Further, variations highlight the need for graduate employers to review their own recruitment and selection processes to ensure they are equitable for all student groups.
However, one main limitation of the present study is that the study draws on national data gathered from graduates just four to six months post-graduation. Data may not be a true reflection of the employment outcomes of graduates, given the short time in the labour market. Another limitation is the sole use of quantitative data, drawn from the GOS, limiting the richness and depthless of student’s responses. Furthermore, the use of self-report data can question the accuracy of the responses (Ramo, Hall & Prochaska, 2011).
Furthermore, a major limitation of the present study is the issues of causality, the sample size is small and only limited to ECU business graduates. It is acknowledged that this study is limited to one discipline in one institution, thus the generalizability of the findings cannot be generalized to all Australian undergraduates, across all fields. Finally, because of the limiting dataset and survey design, not all human capital and individual factors could be tested. Despite its limitations, the study provides a foundation for future research aimed at exploring variations in graduate employment outcomes to better inform both HE curriculum and industry recruitment processes.

37846022225Chapter 1 + 2
Introduction & Literature Review
00Chapter 1 + 2
Introduction & Literature Review
216789019957Chapter 4
Findings & Data Analysis
00Chapter 4
Findings & Data Analysis
3839845240665Writing Thesis Process
00Writing Thesis Process

4453255201839Thesis Amendments
00Thesis Amendments
1214755227693Chapter 3
00Chapter 3
2808514228237Chapter 5
Conclusion & Contribution
00Chapter 5
Conclusion & Contribution
391795228600Research Proposal
00Research Proposal

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