Who are the top PhD employers?

The Australian PhD space has suffered from a persistent lack of data on graduate aims and outcomes. CSIRO Data61’s Ribit.net, Australia’s leading job-matching platform for university students, partnered with AMSI to uncover where Australian PhD graduates are – and where they want to be.

The results are striking: no longer the sole domain of academia, Australia’s PhD graduates are ambitious and ready to work in innovative industries. More than 50% of Australian PhD students aim to work in business or the public sector once they graduate. And nearly half of PhD graduates are succeeding – finding employment in businesses, government and the non‐profit sector.

Ribit Founder and Director Liz Jakubowski is buoyed by the findings. ‘It’s encouraging to see so many PhD graduates pursuing careers in Australia’s most exciting startups and innovative, high-growth employers,’ she said.

‘Marketplaces like Ribit and AMSI’s APR.Intern program are opening the talent pipeline – helping more PhD talent translate into growing businesses, creating more Australian jobs and boosting economic prosperity.’

Industry demand is growing for specialist research capability – a trend that began in the 1990s when the number of PhD graduates surpassed the number of jobs available in academia.

The increase in PhD completions – from 4000 to 10,000 annually since 2001 – is meeting increasing demand right across Australian industry, with some of Australia’s most competitive firms recruiting from a wide range of disciplines. 19 out of the 20 largest ASX listed companies now have PhD graduates among their senior executive teams.  

While employment in existing growth sectors including finance and mining is strong, PhD skills are also helping grow emerging sectors – including media and the green economy – which are employing significant numbers.

The increasing focus on industry careers in PhD cohorts raises new challenges, Jakubowski says. ‘There’s a clear need for Australian universities to ensure their PhD students’ expertise is matched with business needs,’ she says.

‘Advanced problem-solving, communication, teamwork, stakeholder management – these are the skills that give graduates an edge in the workplace. It’s never been more important to get our postgraduate students into growing and transforming businesses to help build their chances for success.’

Guest post by Harry Godber. View the full report here.