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Study Choices Affect Post-Study Earnings

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment
22 January 2013 Media Statement

Study Choices Affect Post-Study Earnings

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed the release of new data that compares what students earn after studying different subjects and at different levels in New Zealand.

The data is from the new Ministry of Education report, Moving on up - What young people earn after their tertiary education, and was gathered by matching information from Inland Revenue with tertiary qualifications data.

“The data highlights the large variation in earning potential for different types of graduates, with those studying in in-demand areas earning the most. This report will be useful for students of all ages considering their career options,” Mr Joyce says.

“For example, the data shows the top earners with a bachelors degree are graduates in medicine, earning around $110,000 per year five years after leaving study. This is nearly three times as much as a performing arts graduate,” Mr Joyce says.

“Civil engineering graduates also obtain a premium in the job market, earning about $67,653 a year, 48% more than language and literature or sport and recreation graduates.”

“It’s very clear that study at higher levels improves your career prospects. I encourage young people to take every advantage they can of their tertiary study opportunities to obtain the skills to compete in the modern world.”

The report also shows the advantages for people of completing study at higher levels in terms of both their earnings and their employment status.

For example:

• Five years after finishing study, median earnings for young bachelors graduates are 53% higher than the national median wage, Masters graduates are 86% higher, and those that complete Doctorates earn on average more than double (121% more than) the median wage
• Those studying at higher levels are very unlikely to be on a benefit after study. For example, the benefit rate for bachelors graduates five years after study is 2%; while for those who complete Certificates at Levels 1 to 3 it is 10%.

"Careers New Zealand is releasing a new online tool tomorrow that allows students to compare earnings by qualification and field of study,” Mr Joyce. “The tool will be very useful in considering their study options."

This report on post-study earnings will complement a new report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on the demand outlook for major occupations in New Zealand’s labour force, due out in February.

“The choice of study is very much a decision for students and their families. The Government has committed to provide better information to assist in making those choices, for the benefit of students and for the very significant investment taxpayers make in tertiary education.

“Over the course of 2013, I will be asking government agencies to dig further into the data and produce more information that will help young people make more informed choices about their careers.”

The Ministry of Education report is available on the Education Counts website: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/tertiary_education/moving-on-up-what-young-people-earn-after-their-tertiary-education

The Compare study options tool will be available today on Careers New Zealand website: www.careers.govt.nz/compare-study-options


The key findings of the Moving On Up: What young people earn after their tertiary education and two sample tables from the report are attached.

All statistics related to young graduates living in New Zealand. The earnings data are not adjusted for hours worked, so occupants with a high numbers of part-time workers may appear to be lower-paid that is actually the case.

Key findings from Moving On Up: What young people earn after their tertiary education
• Earnings increase with the level of qualification completed. Five years after finishing study, the median earnings of young people who had completed a bachelors degree was 53% above the national median earnings and 46% above the median for young people who had gained a certificate at levels 1-3.
• Employment rates increase with level of qualification gained. For example, in the first year after study, 56% of young bachelors graduates were in employment and 38% were in further study. With young people who had completed a level 1-3 certificate, 37% were in employment and 48% were taking more study.
• Very few young people who complete a qualification at diploma level or above are on a benefit in the first five years after study. The benefit rate is 4% for diploma graduates and 2% at bachelors level. But it is around 10% for those who graduated with certificates at levels 1-3.
• Young graduates with bachelors degrees in medicine earn the most one, two and five years after studying. The median income for medical graduates is over $110,000 after five years.
• Dental studies and pharmacy bachelors graduates earn the second highest incomes among young bachelors graduates after five years, with median incomes of over $76,100 and $75,100.
• Engineering graduates with an honours degree have median earnings of $65,000 five years after study, compared with $58,300 for a bachelors degree without honours.

Click here to view Sample_tables_from_Moving_On_Up.pdf


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