Should Tertiary Education System be Blamed for Having More Unemployed Graduates?

Tertiary education system may sound simple and easy to be interpreted by many people. However, how many are really aware of the precise definition of tertiary education? The educational level following the completion of a school providing a secondary education is called the tertiary education and it is also known as third stage, third level, and post-secondary education (The Free Dictionary, 2012). Generally, tertiary education culminates in the receipt of certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees. In this competitive world, it is substantial for the present generation of job-seekers, to pursue at least a certificate through tertiary education. Public and private education institutions are emerging all over the world; thus, secondary education leavers should find it less difficult to secure a seat in one of those institutions. Nevertheless, controversial issues arise when the credibility of tertiary education systems is questioned. Despite having established good reputation and also producing highly qualified graduates, there are still speculations relating to the tertiary education system in which opinions vary from one to another.     

Although some people think that tertiary education system should be blamed for having more unemployed graduates, it is also unwise not to consider that the major cause of unemployment is contributed by the graduates themselves. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to justify the attributes of tertiary education systems and point out the various approach of graduates adjunct to being unemployed.

High Expectations

Graduates who excel in their education stand a great chance to be employed by companies that seek high performers as their staff. Whereas graduates with unacceptable credibility who obtain mere passes in the field they study, face a stiff competition in seeking a job. In this situation, the unemployed graduates should be prepared to accept any job that is offered to them but in most cases, these graduates become too choosy over their jobs. They expect to get a high income job for they consider earning high wages indicates prestige as well and they believe this would make them affluent in their future. This unrealistic salary expectations are seemingly the belief of many who are graduating from colleges as they think that they should be paid with a $50k salary, without taking into consideration the fact that they have little or in most cases, no experience in the job (Heckers, 2012).

Good Resume

Furthermore, some graduates pay lesser attention to their qualification that may appear incompetent to employers who seek high achievers when recruiting new employees. One of the disputes in finding a job is incompetent qualification in terms of resume. In aiding this dispute of adverse resumes, one job seeker must have at least some working experiences  during the recent months to qualify for a job. For instance, in a case of multiple applications, if the resumes are identical in terms of qualification and experience but one resume indicates the applicant was employed in recent months, it is ensured that the latter candidate may have a higher chance of getting the job (Edelhart, 2012). Learning how to write a good resume plays an important factor in job applications. Failing to submit a complete resume also becomes a hindrance to graduates in getting opportunities to be employed.

Choice of Degree

When pursuing a degree course, some undergraduates make a mistake of choosing to study in mismatched fields. They lack foresight on job availability in the real world and make poor planning prior to choosing a course. As most college leavers are dependent on companies to employ them in their future, studying in a field that provides limited opportunities for job seekers proves to be fatal for them in the prospect of employment. Students are the ones who are fully responsible in getting their selection affirmed while picking their majors; so, the idea that over-education leads to unemployment is not factual and thus should not be made a controversy. (Yzaguirre, 2012). Proper planning will never fail to uphold the expectations of qualified graduates.


Meanwhile, there also exist a large number of undergraduates who accept any course that is offered to them from the universities. A significant clarification for the massive escalating unemployment rate is, employers wish to find and hire applicants but they just cannot find a candidate with a decent qualification and most importantly, right skills to do the jobs (Shapiro, 2012). Unknowingly, students pursue in the offered field with the hope that there will be jobs awaiting them after graduation. Unfortunately, those graduates end up facing the harsh reality that employment from companies does not tally with the course offered by higher institutions.


A successful candidate for a job prospect is one who is fully prepared innovatively to take up the challenges of employment. However, undergraduates who do not participate actively in college activities that are relevant to skills training may also lack important skills such as the art of communication during job interviews. According to Arifin (2012), the most vital skill among all the soft skills is the ability to speak or communicate in fluent English, especially in private sectors. In addition, many graduates are technically proficient but unable to express well in soft skills while communicating with employers (Miller, 2012). This may dampen one’s opportunity of getting a job. For instance, candidates who fail to communicate well during a job interview, apparently, would also blunder their opportunity to attain the job. Employers are easily impressed by the candidate’s soft skills as well as an internship experience. In these circumstances, it is obvious that it takes more than just intellectual attributes to find an occupation in this present competitive world.


Apart from lacking soft skills training, some graduates are unwilling to upgrade their own qualifications in order to suit their skills accordingly in labour market. Statistics shows that approximately more than one third of graduates are working in low-skilled jobs (Snowdon, 2012). These are infrequent cases of graduates who improve themselves gradually to find a professional job. Most employers only pick the best candidate to fill up a vacancy. So, should the unsuccessful candidates keep on trying for other job interviews without even trying to improve their own qualification? Only those graduates, who are willing to upgrade themselves, stand a better chance to get a job compared to those people who irrationally blame everything else but do not do anything to improve themselves.   

Tertiary Education System Standpoint

Besides, another significant argument which defends the fundamental rights of tertiary education system is the stiff competition faced by the annually increasing graduates. Although the world has changed drastically in terms of modernisation and technological sophistication over the past decades, the availability of jobs is somehow not increasing proportionally. The stipulations of all the youth population are not fulfilled as resources are insufficient while job opportunities are limited (Amoafo, 2012). First of all, to acquire jobs with stable income, one needs to secure a confirmed position in the respective workplace. However, in the cases of limited job opportunities, is the tertiary education system to be blamed? Most degree holders who graduate with decent qualifications would definitely acquire jobs in consideration to their years, money and effort spent during their studies; anyhow, due to limited job opportunities, they find themselves being unemployed up to even one whole year. In what aspects should the tertiary education system be blamed, when the respective institutions have served their students accordingly throughout their studies there?

Postgraduate Studies

Prominently, Masters and PhD qualifications are known to serve better perspective to job applicants in respective to their majoring fields. Many students who graduate from degree courses eventually further into masters’ degree and subsequently PhDs as the highest level of all education. Therefore, diploma holders, or even degree holders, stand a lower chance in securing a job in the future as employers would rather accept masters and PhD holders into their company. Extra pressure is also exerted on the graduates who have no working experience as the massive competition for jobs is triggered by the over-supply of them (Li, 2009). It is up to the graduates to decide if they would want to acquire a masters or PhD. Consequently, the accomplishment of tertiary education system in establishing high quality education should not be reprimanded.

Reasons for Unemployment

Unemployment may not only be caused by the limited job opportunity, but also caused by unfavourable working conditions. A relevant example is when a job seeker loses opportunity to another due to inevitable reasons such as the workplace being too far from city; thus, transportation problems arise as well as the problem with time management. Other reasons could include financial crisis and family related problems (Sengupta, 2011). The applicant that has a more suitable adaptation to the working condition eventually wins the position of the job instead of the candidate with all those inevitable and unforeseen circumstances. This situation may seem bias towards most of the applicants but should the tertiary education system be blamed for causing unemployment among the less fortunate graduates? It is quite clear of the answer as all these drawbacks are none of concerns of higher institutions.

Role of the Higher Institutions

Adamantly, there are some people who strongly propose the flaws of the tertiary education system as being the reason why graduates are still unemployed. One of the main arguments that opponents point out is that higher institutions produce too many graduates with low qualifications. This may appear true considering the fact that various higher institutions throughout the country are mushrooming commercially in a rapid pace. Due to the blemish by their specific colleges and universities that are unsynchronised with the needs of an accomplished work force, many graduates are still ill prepared for the labour market (Bennett, 2012). As school leavers are more interested in pursuing a degree than starting a non-academic career of their own, higher institutions have become a platform for more and more undergraduates to pass their time merrily without bothering much about their quality of their achievement in tertiary education.

Drawbacks of the Higher Institutions

The higher institutions do not prepare enough programmes for better performance as an eye opener. Instead, the higher the enrolment of students in the higher institutions, the greater they benefit in source of income. These institutions are too concerned of their own welfare and neglect the standards as well as performance of students. This is evident as these institutions also produce graduates with mere passes only and not suited for the requirement of the present labour markets. These institutions somehow lack the confidence that any of their efforts in establishing highly qualified graduates would attract employers. When graduates expect the college to improvise on career services, those institutions turn out to be unreliable as many have decided to take a despondent approach (Curran, 2012). Consequently, students who complete their course and attend their convocation as for the conferring of awards in those institutions are all graduates with low qualification.

Arguments in favour of Tertiary Education Institutions

Nevertheless, there are adequate refutations to the opponent’s arguments as well. The lackadaisical approach of students towards their studies is mainly to be blamed. A vast number of students cherish the freedom they get while studying in higher institutions and thus get distracted from their studies and they aim only for passes but not distinctions. Students who care more for their own enjoyment would certainly not perform well in their studies. As mentioned earlier, it is not enough to obtain mere passes as all employers seek for candidates with high intellectual qualification apart from vital soft skills. So, it is clear that the students’ behaviour is the factor that results in low qualification, not the system of the tertiary education institution.

Conjunctive to the previous issue, some students also spend too much time on activities that do not prepare them to face the outside world in job perspectives. Despite possessing sufficient testimonials on their participation in such activities, this does not help them in getting a job that is offered by companies which seek a competent job seeker with relevant skills only.

Miscellaneous Degree Programmes

The next speculation surrounding the tertiary education system is that there are also cases of graduates who are high performers in their fields but their qualifications do not match the requirement of an occupation available in the market. This is due to skills or to be more precise, modules, offered in a particular course do not match the requirement of the occupation. Miscellaneous degree programmes are created but the skill sets that are proposed for engaging the job market are not critically justified (Swail, 2012). Thus, those unfortunate graduates end up waiting for the right job to knock at their door because the jobs that they are looking for do not require the skills that they have learnt.

Tertiary Education Institutions’ Defence

In defence of the highly honourable tertiary education systems, it is solely the students’ ignorance that has caused such adversities for them to acquire a job after graduating. This is apparently due to the students’ attitude in which they do not find out more about modules offered in a specific course and sign up for those postgraduates’ programmes without much contemplation. Subsequently, they graduate with a qualification or in this case, skills exhibited through their syllabuses which do not fulfil their jobs’ requirement. They tend to end up being too choosy and persistent in getting a job based on their postgraduates’ programmes. In effort of providing good education, a tertiary education system offers new information and skills that can provide many abiding benefits that are not related to income and that are important to employers, regardless of which path is chosen by the graduates (Dellerman, 2010). Those efforts are to be appreciated, not argued about instead.

Quality of Programs Offered

Furthermore, another strong argument which relates to the inconsistency of graduates completing in fields that do not require more employees in a particular job market is also an apparent cause of graduates being unemployed. As proposed in the arguments, the higher institution should work towards striking a balance between the number of graduates produced and the rate of employment available in the job market. According to Miller (2012), in this underlying situation of most tertiary education system, the ones to be blamed are technical colleges and universities in which they establish programs and gain publicity through advertisements but the number of graduates they produce annually exceeds the number of jobs available. Solidifying the argument, Swail (2012), debates that there are no proper defences against the over production of graduates in most fields due to the ineffectiveness of maintaining quality education.


First of all, students should critically analyse the job prospects in the future before pursuing a course. A very pertinent case is when overflowing graduates wish to engage into jobs that are already occupied with employees in every single company, firm, and institution, regardless of jobs in the country itself or either in overseas. Based on a more precise example by Miller (2012), it is shown that most photographers regret for pursuing into photography majors instead of majoring in business because photography majors exceeds the employment of photographers. This is a relevant example which signifies that students make the wrong choice in pursuing degrees. With this inevitable situation, students are the ones responsible to critically think and decide before stepping into a course. Higher institutions are none of the parties to be blamed as it is only doing its duty in providing miscellaneous courses ranging from the liberal arts to science related courses.

In conclusion, the reputation of the highly credible tertiary education systems should not be tarnished due to unacceptable point of views. Therefore, students who are about to enrol in tertiary education should consider many relevant issues pertaining to their job opportunity in the future, after graduating from respective universities and fields that they have chosen. Tertiary education system should not be blamed for having more unemployed graduates as the arguments are definitely superficial to accuse the system that has ignited the talents of many young graduates respectively in their majoring fields; instead, the approaches of graduates concerning their future employment should be questioned. 

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