BlogUniversity10 Degrees with the Lowest Employability Rates in Australia for 2021

10 Degrees with the Lowest Employability Rates in Australia for 2021

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Now that you’ve read about the most employable degrees in Australia, you might be wondering what the degrees with the lowest employability rates in Australia are and their job prospects.  

You’ve come to the right place — we’ve compiled a list of the 10 uni degrees in Australia with the lowest employability rates, based on data from QILT’s Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS).

We know that choosing your uni degree can be confusing and daunting but weighing up a range of important factors will make it easier to decide. Of course, you should consider your passions, interests and talents, but thinking about your degree’s employability plays a big role too. 

Let’s get started!

The Data on Degree Employability and Job Prospects

As we’ve mentioned, when it comes to selecting a uni degree to study, it’s essential to think of what you’re most passionate about, where your interests lie, as well as your talents — but employability is also something to consider.

The data we’ve collated from QILT’s GOS is based on the responses received in terms of securing full-time employment after graduating from an undergraduate degree, so the statistics mentioned here do not take into account roles that are casual or part-time.

Furthermore, COVID-19 had a major impact across all industries throughout 2020, which is reflected in this data. Some industries have been able to thrive throughout the pandemic, while others haven’t been as fortunate because of how some roles require face-to-face contact by nature.

So as you read through this data, if you see an industry that you’ve been aspiring to work in listed, this doesn’t mean you need to rule out a career in that field. Roles in that industry may require further study, were heavily impacted by COVID-19, or the statistics don’t reflect those who aren’t working full-time jobs.

Now let’s take a closer look at these industries.

#10 Architecture and Built Environment

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 67.7% 

Example degrees: 

A degree in architecture will prepare you for careers in architecture, construction, design and urban planning. You’ll learn about designing buildings that meet the cultural, economic and sustainable needs of individuals and communities.

If a degree in architecture has caught your attention, remember to also consider the job prospects of it! 

Since most architecture projects and jobs are tied to the economy, there may be less jobs during times of a recession. This means economic challenges such as COVID-19 will certainly affect the employability prospects of this degree. 

Learn about a career as an Architect here!

#9 Agriculture and Environmental Studies

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 67.4%

Example Degrees:

Agriculture and environmental studies are all about using a range of disciplines including science, technology and business to manage various environmental issues and develop ethical and sustainable agriculture practices.

If you’re passionate about challenges and issues such as the environment, sustainable living and food security, this could be the perfect degree for you! 

However, throughout the pandemic, this industry hasn’t been without struggle. National and global crises can impact the industry, such as COVID-19, and thus employability within agriculture.

#8 Health Services and Support 

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 67.2%

Example Degrees: 

Health services and support cover a range of degrees and study areas where you’ll study individual and community health, wellbeing, aged care, disability care, and more. This could be a potential career option for you if you’re passionate about helping others and making a positive change to people’s lives!

Employability outcomes with an undergraduate degree in health services and support depend on what types of roles you’re looking to get into within the industry.

For example, if you’re interested in nursing or becoming a doctor, you’ll be required to complete more specialised studies after your undergraduate degree. This means there aren’t a lot of job prospects with just an undergraduate degree. 

If you’re looking to get into child care or aged care work, a Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification is required, which is another type of tertiary qualification. This means you can enter the workforce with a certificate III or IV in health services, support and relevant fields.

A VET course takes less time to complete than a uni degree and is typically around 6 months or 1 year long. These courses are also a lot more hands-on than uni degrees so you’ll be able to build a good foundation of practical experience to boost job prospects! 

You can check out some Certificate III and IV courses here

#7 Social Work

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 67.2%

Example Degrees:

A career in social work is perfect if you’re looking for ways to help people in need and if you’re committed to social justice, human rights and positive community change. With a degree in social work, you’ll learn to support individuals and communities, develop solutions, redress inequalities, and more!

If a career in social work has caught your eye, one thing to consider is that your job prospects will improve with experience and/or further studies such as a Master’s degree.

When it comes to social work, 20-24 year olds only make up 3.7% of the industry which means there aren’t a lot of people establishing themselves in social work careers until they’re at least 25 years old. This means that if you complete a Bachelor’s degree right after high school, it’ll most likely still take a few years of experience or further studies to find full-time employment. 

#6 Psychology

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 61.4%

Example Degrees:

A psychology degree involves studying the human mind and behaviour in a scientific research and clinical practice setting.

Careers in psychology include a range of specialised areas such as child psychology, social psychology, neuropsychology, and more. Your career path will most likely include clinical practice or research in these specialised areas. 

If a career in psychology sounds like it’s for you, something to keep in mind is that your employment outcomes with an undergraduate qualification are quite low since most career paths require further studies such as Honours, a Master’s degree, or a PhD.

Getting into an Honours program or other postgraduate course will usually require you to maintain a certain WAM — so completing your undergraduate degree will need a lot of consistent hard work! 

If psychology is your passion and you’re set on becoming a Psychologist, be aware of the marks you’re required to achieve in order to complete further study.

#5 Humanities, Culture and Social Sciences

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 60.9%

Example Degrees: 

Humanities, culture studies and social sciences cover a broad study area with a lot of different degrees and majors. From History, Politics and International Relations to Film Studies, Anthropology and Marketing, you’ll find that this study area probably caters to a lot of your passions and interests.

While a humanities or social sciences degree will equip you with great general skills like critical thinking, analysis, research and communication, most majors and degrees don’t prepare you for specific careers. In contrast, other study areas might have more job prospects because they often prepare you for specific careers.

For example, an engineering degree can prepare you to be an engineer or studying dentistry sets you up to become a dentist.   

Nonetheless, it’s still a valuable degree to have and you can check out careers you might want to pursue with a Bachelor of Arts here!

#4 Science and Mathematics

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 59.1%

Example Degrees:

Science and mathematics degrees include heaps of options such as biotechnology, environmental sciences, data science, physics, computer science, and more. Science and mathematics studies are all about learning how to use data, research and analysis to develop solutions for big issues within society. 

While a lot of the challenges we face these days certainly need science and mathematics to help create solutions, the employability challenge with science degrees is that most of them are quite generalist! They’ll help you build a great foundation but a lot of science and maths career paths will require you to complete further studies such as a Master’s or PhD.

So if you’re hoping to jump right into full-time employment with your undergraduate degree, a science and math degree might not open up a lot of job prospects!  

Learn about careers with a Bachelor of Science (and potential further study) here!

#3 Communications

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 52.8%

Example Degrees: 

Communication degrees are all about developing a broad range of professional skills for a career in communications and media industries — you’ll learn skills such as film making, writing, radio and podcasting, media production, and more. A degree in communications is perfect if you’re passionate about storytelling, entertainment and current affairs. 

Communications is definitely a relevant study area in our current world but undergraduate employability outcomes are actually pretty low!

Since communications and media industries are always evolving, some of the knowledge and skills you learn in an undergraduate uni degree aren’t going to be completely up to date and relevant to your career. This means when it comes to employability outcomes, the practical experience you gain can open up more career paths than the degree! 

Needless to say, one of the most important skills when it comes to a career in communications is communicating and connecting with others! This is why the industry can often be about your personal connections and ability to network rather than your skills, knowledge, undergraduate degree, or other factors.

Knowing how to network is a way to tell potential employers that you’re a skilled communicator and able to connect well with people. 

Discover careers you can explore in Communications here!

#2 Tourism, Hospitality, Personal Services, Sport and Recreation

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 52.4%

Example Degrees:

A degree in tourism and hospitality will prepare you for a career in events, hospitality and tourism with a range of relevant skills such as team work, business knowledge, leadership and problem solving.

A career in personal services can include a range of industries such as health care, travel and tourism, cleaning, and beauty.

Studying to get into the sport and recreation industry can open up a range of careers such as sports coaches and instructors, personal trainers, managers, and more.

If you’re looking to get into any of these roles and industries, an undergraduate degree most likely won’t contribute to your job prospects since other factors are a lot more important! A Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification and/or hands-on experience will add to your employability outcomes and might be a better pathway than a uni degree. 

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has had a major impacts on all of these industries. Lockdown restrictions have meant that these industries can’t operate in ways that they traditionally do, which impacts employability and finding work.

#1 Creative Arts

Percentage of graduates with a full-time job: 45.8%

Example Degrees:

A degree in creative arts is a great way to learn both the theoretical and the hands-on aspects of various creative fields such as creative writing, visual arts, music and design.

Something that makes the undergraduate employment outcomes pretty low with only 45.8% with a full-time job, is that you have to be able to market yourself and develop a great brand. This means establishing yourself within the industry can be quite challenging and time consuming!

You’ll often rely on heaps of factors other than just your undergraduate degree including your expertise and experience, talent, brand and your network. 

As we’ve mentioned with a lot of these industries, COVID-19 has not been so kind on many of them. Creative arts hasn’t been able to thrive since a lot of events have been postponed or cancelled, and many projects have been put on hold. 

But if you’re a passionate creative, the online space is still a way to grow within your career when factors like COVID-19 can be restrictive.

There you have it!

We’ve unpacked some of the degrees with the lowest employability rates in Australia. While these statistics are definitely ones to consider when selecting a degree, your passions, interests and talents are important too and it’s your drive and motivation that will allow you to prosper in your chosen field!


Maitreyi Kulkarni is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is currently studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications (Public Relations and Social Media) at Macquarie University. She loves writing just about anything from articles to poetry, and has also had one of her articles published with the ABC. When she’s not writing up a storm, she can be found reading, bingeing sitcoms, or playing the guitar.

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