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Jobs without degrees: Is university becoming outdated?

Dr Amantha Imber is the author of The Innovation Formula.
Dr Amantha Imber is the author of The Innovation Formula. Supplied

THE Government's decision to increase university fees is not the only reason Australians should reconsider enrolling.

Many experts and employers believe degrees are outdated, with the world of work is changing faster than universities can keep up.

Degree costs are set to grow 7.5 per cent by 2021 and students will have to start paying back loans as soon as they earn $42,000 a year, meanwhile shorter, less expensive study options - such as free online courses and vocational qualifications - are increasingly considered on par or even preferable, depending on the field of work.

Dr Amantha Imber, founder of training and consulting firm Inventium, says she does not look for university degrees when hiring for operational, administrative or support roles.

"In this day and age there is a wealth of learning experiences online and many of those are free or cost effective, like under $1000, and what you can learn is often actually a lot better than what you learn in a university degree," she says.

"What is important to us in any job applicant is a thirst for learning.

"(Universities) generally are big conservative organisations and they are not moving fast enough to keep up with how the world is changing around them."

Allan Reinikka

GradStats data finds 68.8 per cent of 2015 bachelor degree graduates available for full-time work found it within four months of completing their studies.

This is up from 68.1 per cent for 2014 graduates but down from 71.3 per cent for 2013 graduates.

Although some occupations still require university for licensing purposes - such as lawyers, teachers, doctors and engineers - Imber says there is a trend of employers thinking outside the box when it comes to education.

"There are definitely larger organisations no longer treating (degrees) as a mandatory requirement," she says.

"They are probably still in the minority but there is definitely a change happening."

In July, PwC will welcome its first cohort of school leavers under the Government's Higher Apprenticeships pilot program.

The Year 12 graduates will join PwC's consulting and assurance teams in Sydney and Melbourne and be trained on the job, earning a Diploma of Business along the way.

Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show more than a quarter of school leavers choose the workforce over post-school studies straight after graduation.

Of the 237,400 Australians who finished Year 12 in 2015, 69,200 were working and not studying in May, 2016.

Michelle Moloney, director of nanny matching service Mini Majer, did not go to university and has zero regrets.

She started her career path with a Diploma of Hospitality Operations and Event Management, and a three-month stint in catering but soon decided to move into the corporate world.

She became a receptionist at a recruitment firm before working her way up to a consultant position then eventually managing and purchasing Mini Majer.

"I didn't need any degrees or anything like that," she says.

"(Recruitment) is one of those things you can only learn on the job.

"In high school I was very competitive and always wanted to get ahead but I never thought a degree would get me ahead.

"My mum grew up in a village in a convent and didn't have the luxury of finishing high school so I get that drive from my mum."

Lisa Solomons is director of a PR company despite not going to university.
Lisa Solomons is director of a PR company despite not going to university. Rohan Kelly

Lisa Solomons, director of 360 PR, also took an alternative path to success.

She went straight into full-time work with Telstra then, after a year, enrolled in a Diploma of Marketing, specialising in Sports Marketing.

"At the time I was cheerleading for the Roosters and decided I would prefer to be in the office rather than on the field," she says.

"I ended up working in the marketing department for a Sydney nightclub (then) a 12-month reception role came up at a public relations company and I quickly realised that this was where I was meant to be."

Solomons studied part time at night to complete a Diploma of Public Relations and now runs her own company.

"(If you don't got to university), you need to be proactive and say 'yes' to create the path you want. Have a bank of mentors and look beyond people within your chosen industry," she says.

"I didn't want to go to university just because that was the thing you do."

Topics:  education employment federal budget 2017 jobs university

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