The Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) has been engaged by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to investigate graduates’ employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree. The 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey (GPS) is a new cross-institutional study of the destinations and transitions of Australian university graduates.

To provide university education at a level and quality and in fields that ensure graduates have successful labour market outcomes, and which facilitate growth in the economy, it is important that there is an overall understanding of the pathways that university graduates take following the completion of their degrees. Initial entry into the labour market is important, but the nature of contemporary knowledge work means that the foundations of many careers take longer to develop. Studying bachelor degree graduates ‘five years on’ helps identify trends in graduate perceptions of their courses and the relevance of such courses to their future employment pathways.

The importance of a robust, well-equipped university graduate cohort is crucial to meeting the employment demands of the Australian labour market. Ensuring that new graduates are aware of work options and career pathways is important for them as individuals, but also for the Australian economy more generally. It is important, in turn, that careers and other advisors at institutions are well informed about the contexts and opportunities that shape graduate’s early careers. Evidence-based insights into graduate destinations play an important role in shaping policy and practice in Australia, and hence ultimately the careers of graduates and the industries in which they work.