Don’t be a HASS-been, HSC leavers

If you are a year 12 student with a preference for humanities, don’t change it. Invest in a future where you will be sustained by your passion for your work and where your skills will be valued contributions to the world.

In a muddle-headed attempt to influence student enrolment preferences, the so-called Job-Ready Graduate Bill before the federal Parliament increases university student fees from 2021 for most humanities and social sciences (HASS) subjects.

Those fee hikes are designed to tempt year 12 students to switch their HASS preferences to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But not so fast.

With HSC examinations now finished, smart students will be thinking about their futures. And being smart students, they will use their critical thinking skills to test the dubious proposition that HASS graduates are somehow ill-prepared for the future worlds of work.

They will find a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that HASS graduates are being snapped up as job-ready by employers across a diverse range of sectors that increasingly recognise the deep value of their qualifications.

Smart students will be guided by recent influential reports on the rapidly changing futures of employment in Australia and internationally that emphasise a growing demand for synthesising and evaluative skills, communicative ability, collaborative teamwork, cross-cultural competency, creative decision-making, ethical thinking and social influence - all widely recognised as HASS graduate qualities.

Smart students will realise the Bachelor of Arts (BA) is the most popular degree not only for non-executive directors of Australia’s 100 biggest public companies but also for the current members of our federal Parliament , both Liberal and Labor.

And they will know that more than 65 per cent of the chief executives of Australia’s largest public companies and 44 per cent of world leaders - soon to include Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris - have social science qualifications.

Smart students will acquaint themselves with a recent British Academy report that demonstrates that HASS graduates are more frequently employed than their STEM peers in eight of the 10 fastest-growing employment sectors.

In short, ignoring the cultural-warrior spin, smart students will scan the available information and synthesise it in an overwhelmingly positive argument for HASS skills in the rapidly changing employment environments into which they will graduate in three or four years.

Don’t believe the hype. HASS graduates are job-ready graduates.

Professor Annamarie Jagose is the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald , 11 November 2020.

Banner image: Shutterstock.

Employees who bring creativity to the workplace, who think strategically in their roles, problem-solve effectively on the fly, and communicate with diverse groups of people, are no longer nice-to-haves: they’re essential. And they’re in-demand.

Wondering what a Bachelor of Arts actually is (but have been too scared to ask)- Want to learn more about what you can study, what jobs you can get and whether a BA is worth it? You’ve come to the right place. Read on.

As the workforce trends towards soft skills, we caught up with three Bachelor of Arts students who brought their communication and problem-solving abilities to bear while interning at Amnesty International, Macquarie Dictionary and the European Australian Business Council.


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