What I heard on the train: why new graduates can’t get a job

trainHaving been paid to be nosy as a journalist for decades, I still have the habit of listening in to other people’s conversations, just in case there’s a story idea there.
This morning, standing in the peak-hour crush in an overcrowded train (not the one pictured left, that was my nicer going-home train), I overheard two middle-aged lawyers talking about the state of their industry.
It transpired that one of them worked for a huge company that I won’t name here. He was talking about job opportunities for lawyers.
There’s a big debate in Australia at the moment about how difficult it is for people over 50 to find jobs. However, there are also great difficulties for new graduates to get their first “proper” job. I hear it’s almost impossible for a fully qualified law graduate  to find a job as a junior lawyer in Melbourne now, and you’re most likely to be paying to do another expensive course to get your articles, rather than finding a job as an articled clerk as most used to.
Anyway, this guy on the train said, “Graduates used to come in at entry-level and do all the research and initial leg-work for cases. No longer. It’s all outsourced. Can you believe that? It’s all outsourced overseas, and it’s much cheaper. But it’s just not the same. Mind you, my company still charges out to clients at $5000 a day, even for outsourced material.
“No wonder graduates can’t get jobs any more. And then more experienced lawyers are being brought in on what used to be entry-level rates, but they’re not doing entry-level work; they’re expected to do the work of a lawyer on a trainee-level wage.”

I suspect this is happening in many other industries, too.

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11 thoughts on “What I heard on the train: why new graduates can’t get a job

  1. I have read that we can expect the majority of legal and accountancy work to be outsourced in the next wave of offshoring. Often Australian-trained lawyers and accountants, who have returned to the Philippines in particular post-study, will do the work for about $25 an hour as against about $100 an hour in Australia. We really must get some smarts, particularly in manufacturing and scientific areas. Otherwise, third world here we come.

    • Yes. While there is a mentality that the only thing that counts is selling commodities to get more profit, we will increasingly become the dumb country. Add to that a government that doesn’t care about people, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Some days, I really do want to go and live on a desert island somewhere…

  2. Yes that resonates with my experience as well Caron. Since moving to Auckland at xmas and visiting 30 plus schools, giving them my CV, I’ve had 3 days in a row, relief teaching for the same teacher. I suspect being a near 62 year old male is playing a part. Also there is an oversupply of teachers because teachers with permanent positions are hanging on to them rather than traveling and or delaying having children. Meanwhile the unis are graduating fresh teachers each year, many of whom can’t get jobs so they relief teach on the lowest salary level while experienced teachers like myself are on the maximum.
    Anyhow my art show opening was well attended last night so heres hoping for some solid sales.
    Regards Denis

    • Yes, age-discrimination is everywhere. And if you’re an “older” person (i.e. 45+) and go for a more junior position, you don’t get it either, despite the fact that you’d be an absolute bargain, and despite the fact that the people interviewing are often of mature age as well. I suspect they want a young-ish person they can boss round. When I was visiting Dunedin last year, a cousin’s husband who is a school principal said exactly what you have: those who have full-time jobs never leave them. He said they were also cutting back on full-time positions, so, for example, the French teacher doubled as the drama teacher, and the principal had to go back to teaching classes also. He said it’s even worse in the South Island than Auckland. Meanwhile in tertiary education, it’s dire: loading up the full-time academics with double the teaching they had last year so that they can save on sessional staff. Meanwhile, a whole lot of highly educated, experienced and dedicated older workers are wondering if they can get a casual job at Coles to tide them over. And now the govt is planning to put up the retirement age to 70. What a joke (except its not).

  3. Bloody hell! Studying law used to be one of those things that guaranteed employment in Australia.

    (Though I did smile at our shared practice of eavesdropping on public transport in search of story ideas)

  4. Yes. This is happening in the States, too. All kinds of work is outsourced outside the country. A lot of law graduates can’t find jobs or else they find low-paying jobs or internships doing a lot of work but at not much pay.
    Older workers over here are often pushed out of their jobs and younger workers hired, lower salaries and lower health care costs to the employer. Unemployed older people have a hard time finding jobs, but need the income. Many end up doing low-wage work, not using their education or skills.
    And for long-term unemployed, just read that employers will hire newly unemployed people with little experience before they’ll hire very experienced and skilled long-term unemployed — including older — workers.
    This isn’t a good economy for older workers, yet they need decent incomes, especially as medical costs are the major expense of the aging. Even with Medicare, individuals still have to pay a lot.

    • Yes, I hear you. It is exactly the same in Australia, though we do have better public health care (at the moment). My husband and I do not have private health cover, because a) we pay for the public system in our substantial taxes (plus a penalty for not having private care); and b) if anything serious goes wrong, you’re best in the public sector anyway; and c) even if you have top private hospital care, you cannot be guaranteed a private room or choice of doctor—you often just end up in a ward anyway; and d) for most procedures, you have to pay gap expenses if you have private care, but not if you are a public patient.

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