Employer Satisfaction

The Employer Satisfaction Survey (ESS) is the first national survey that links the experiences of graduates to the views of their direct supervisors. The ESS is undertaken on a systematic basis by asking employed graduates who participated in the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) four months after graduation to provide the contact details of their supervisor for follow up.

The survey provides information about the quality of education provided at Australian institutions, by asking supervisors to provide feedback about the generic skills, technical skills and work readiness of the graduate employed in their workplace.

Information for survey participants

If you recently completed the GOS or received an invitation to participate in the ESS as a supervisor, please visit our FAQs page for more information.

We also offer an ESS brochure - find out how 5 minutes of your time can lead to better work preparedness for Australia.

 

In 2020 the supervisor response rate was 45.5 per cent with over 3,400 supervisor responses. The 2020 ESS results are large enough to provide robust comparisons by broad field of education, course characteristics, employment characteristics, occupation and demographic group. There are sufficient results from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 ESS combined to provide comparisons across universities.

Below is a summary of the survey outcomes. 90 per cent confidence intervals are presented to aid in interpretation of the data. Please refer to the 2020 Employer Satisfaction Survey Report for detailed ESS results. 

Figure1

Employer satisfaction with graduate attributes and overall satisfaction, 2020 (%, with 90 per cent confidence intervals)

With the overall satisfaction of graduates rated by direct supervisors at 84.7 per cent, the results of the 2020 ESS affirm the value of higher education qualifications for employment.

Figure2

Employer overall satisfaction by broad field of education, 2020 (%, with 90 per cent confidence intervals)

In 2020, employers reported highest overall satisfaction with Engineering and Related Technologies graduates at 90 per cent. Supervisors also reported above average satisfaction with Agriculture and Environmental Studies graduates, 88 per cent, Education graduates, 88 per cent, Information Technology graduates, 87 per cent, and Health graduates 86 per cent. On the other hand employer satisfaction, while still high, appears lower for Creative Arts graduates at 78 per cent, Society and Culture, Management and Commerce, and Architecture and Building graduates, all 83 per cent, and Natural and Physical Sciences graduates, 84 per cent.

Employer satisfaction with graduate attributes and overall satisfaction, by broad field of education, 2020 (%, with 90 per cent confidence


If the chart does not fit on your screen, a scroll bar will appear below it.
   Foundation Adaptive  Collaborative Technical  Employability  Overall satisfaction

Natural and Physical Sciences

91.4 (88.1, 93.9)

88.9 (85.2, 91.8)

88.5 (84.8, 91.4)

93.7 (90.6, 95.8)

86.1 (82.1, 89.3)

84.3 (80.3, 87.7)

Information Technology

95.2 (91.6, 97.4)

90.2 (85.6, 93.4)

89.8 (85.3, 93.1)

95.7 (92.1, 97.7)

84.0 (78.6, 88.2)

87.2 (82.4, 90.9)

Engineering and Related Technologies

95.1 (92.3, 96.9)

87.9 (84.2, 90.9)

90.5 (87.1, 93.1)

92.9 (89.8, 95.2)

87.4 (83.6, 90.5)

90.5 (87.1, 93.1)

Architecture and Building

92.0 (85.6, 95.7)

87.1 (79.8, 92.0)

90.8 (84.3, 94.9)

94.1 (88.2, 97.3)

87.1 (79.8, 92.0)

82.8 (75.1, 88.5)

Agriculture and Environmental Studies

98.3 (92.3, 100.0)

95.0 (87.8, 98.3)

91.8 (83.9, 96.2)

98.3 (92.3, 100.0)

85.0 (75.8, 91.2)

88.3 (79.6, 93.7)

Health

94.6 (93.0, 95.9)

90.3 (88.2, 92.1)

89.2 (87.0, 91.1)

94.6 (92.8, 95.9)

85.3 (82.8, 87.5)

86.5 (84.1, 88.6)

Education

93.4 (91.2, 95.1)

91.6 (89.2, 93.5)

86.1 (83.2, 88.5)

94.5 (92.4, 96.0)

86.0 (83.0, 88.5)

87.6 (84.8, 89.9)

Management and Commerce

94.6 (92.8, 95.9)

90.1 (87.8, 91.9)

86.7 (84.2, 88.8)

92.9 (91.0, 94.5)

89.7 (87.4, 91.6)

82.7 (79.9, 85.1)

Society and Culture

92.8 (91.1, 94.3)

90.8 (88.9, 92.4)

88.0 (85.8, 89.8)

93.3 (91.6, 94.7)

87.9 (85.7, 89.7)

82.6 (80.2, 84.8)

Creative Arts

92.6 (87.9, 95.6)

89.4 (84.1, 93.1)

88.2 (82.9, 92.1)

95.5 (91.4, 97.8)

88.3 (82.7, 92.2)

77.6 (71.2, 83.0)

Total

93.7 (93.0, 94.4)

90.1 (89.2, 91.0)

88.1 (87.1, 89.0)

93.8 (93.1, 94.5)

86.8 (85.8, 87.8)

84.7 (83.6, 85.7)

Employer overall satisfaction by institution, 2018 to 2020 (%)

Figure7

Employer satisfaction is consistently high across Australia’s Table A and B universities, with overall satisfaction ranging from 93 per cent to 78 per cent across universities, when results are combined from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 surveys. Employers rate graduates from Bond University highest at 93 per cent, followed by University of Divinity, 92 per cent, and Australian Catholic University and the University of Wollongong, both 90 per cent. Note caution is warranted in interpreting differences in employer satisfaction across universities due to the relatively small number of survey responses at some universities. Results for individual non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs) are not published as the number of employer responses remains too small.



Over 3,400 supervisors of Australian resident and international undergraduates, postgraduate coursework graduates and postgraduate research graduates from Australian universities and non-university higher education institutions participated in the ESS in 2020, making it the largest Australian survey of employers of higher education graduates. While there are an insufficient number of responses to publish institution by study area results on the ComparEd website, the ESS is large enough to provide comparisons by broad field of education, course characteristics, employment characteristics, occupation and demographic group.

Results have been combined from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 ESS to provide comparisons across universities. This follows the approach for other surveys on the ComparEd website where results are pooled across years to increase the number of responses and confidence intervals are published to improve the robustness and validity of data. Combining ESS results across the three years provides nearly 12,000 employer responses across universities, ranging from 875 responses for the University of Melbourne down to 39 responses for the University of Divinity. The QILT reports and ComparEd website do not publish results where there are fewer than 25 survey responses. For this reason, results for individual non-university higher education institution (NUHEIs) are not shown as the number of employer responses is generally too small.

The ESS is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and since 2016 has been administered annually by the Social Research Centre. Six indicators of employer satisfaction are displayed on this website.
The indicators relate to:

  1. Overall satisfaction
  2. Foundation skills - general literacy, numeracy and communication skills and the ability to investigate and integrate knowledge
  3. Adaptive skills - the ability to adapt and apply skills/knowledge and work independently
  4. Collaborative skills - teamwork and interpersonal skills
  5. Technical skills - application of professional and technical knowledge and standards
  6. Employability skills - the ability to perform and innovate in the workplace

The QILT website reports the proportion of employers satisfied with each indicator, based on employer feedback to the following questions:

ESS indicator

Description

Overall satisfaction

The percentage of supervisors who expressed overall satisfaction with their graduate. This is based on the number of employers who gave the response they were ‘likely to consider’ or ‘very likely to consider’ to the following question in the ESS, ‘Based on your experience with this graduate, how likely are you to consider hiring another graduate from the same course and institution, if you had a relevant vacancy?’

Foundation skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ foundation skills. This indicator is based on the average of a supervisor’s feedback about the following eight graduate attributes from the ESS:

  1. Oral communication skills
  2. Written communication skills
  3. Numeracy skills
  4. Ability to develop relevant knowledge
  5. Ability to develop relevant skills
  6. Ability to solve problems
  7. Ability to integrate knowledge
  8. Ability to think independently about problems

Adaptive skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ adaptive skills. This indicator is based on the average of a supervisor’s feedback about the following six graduate attributes from the ESS:

  1. Broad background knowledge
  2. Ability to develop innovative ideas
  3. Ability to identify new opportunities
  4. Ability to adapt knowledge to different concepts
  5. Ability to apply skills in different contexts
  6. Capacity to work independently

Collaborative skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ collaborative skills. This indicator is based on the average of a supervisor’s feedback about the following five graduate attributes from the ESS:

  1. Working well in a team
  2. Getting on well with others in the workplace
  3. Working collaboratively with colleagues to complete tasks
  4. Understanding different points of view
  5. Ability to interact with co-workers from different or multi-cultural backgrounds

Technical skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ technical skills. This indicator is based on the average of a supervisor’s feedback about the following six graduate attributes from the ESS:

  1. Applying professional knowledge to job tasks
  2. Using technology effectively
  3. Applying technical skills in the workplace
  4. Maintaining professional standards
  5. Observing ethical standards
  6. Using research skills to gather evidence

Employability skills

The percentage of supervisors who expressed satisfaction with graduates’ employability skills. This indicator is based on the average of a supervisor’s feedback about the following eight graduate attributes from the ESS:

  1. Ability to work under pressure
  2. Capacity to be flexible in the workplace
  3. Ability to meet deadlines
  4. Understanding the nature of your business or organisation
  5. Demonstrating leadership skills
  6. Demonstrating management skills
  7. Taking responsibility for professional development
  8. Demonstrating initiative in the workplace

Care should be taken when interpreting results from the ESS presented on this website. The results are estimates only, because they are based on a survey which was not completed by all supervisors. As with previous administrations of the ESS, graduates appear reluctant to pass on the contact details of their supervisors with a 9.5 per cent graduate referral rate achieved for 2019. The accuracy of the figures varies depending on the number of supervisors who completed the survey. Confidence intervals are displayed to provide a measure of the accuracy of the estimates. Results from the ESS by institution by study area are not currently presented on this website.

For technical details about the calculations used to score data derived from the ESS, please see the document, Technical Details - ESS Calculations.

 

2019 Employer Satisfaction Survey National Report

Author(s): Social Research Centre

Published: 2019

2018 Employer Satisfaction Survey National Report

Author(s): Social Research Centre

Published: 2019

2017 Employer Satisfaction Survey National Report

Author(s): Social Research Centre

Published: 2018

2016 Employer Satisfaction Survey National Report

Author(s): The Social Research Centre

Type: Reports

Published: 2017

Employer Satisfaction Survey 2014 Trial Report

In 2014 and 2015, the Social Research Centre conducted additional small scale trials of the ESS aimed at refining the survey methodology and the ESS instrument.