Finding a job is one of the biggest worries for today's tertiary students - so much so that many are planning to leave the country when they finish studying.

These are the findings from an online Colmar Brunton survey of more than 1000 students conducted on behalf of Student Job Search.

When asked what their biggest fear was once they had left study, 21 per cent of students said it related to whether or not they would be able to find a job in their chosen field.

A further 17 per cent worried about not being able to get a job at all, and 9 per cent about ending up in a job they didn't like.


When asked what stresses them, 47 per cent said the thought of getting a job once they graduated, followed closely by 45 per cent who said getting through the semester with good enough grades.

In comparison only 12 per cent were stressed about paying their share of the rent and just 5 per cent stressed about where their next decent meal would come from.

While a third planned on moving straight into career mode after study, 19 per cent said they had no plan and were "pretty nervous", while 18 per cent were heading overseas - either for work or timeout.

Colmar Brunton youth specialist and qualitative research director Brunton Spencer Willis said fears about jobs stood out in the survey.

"Concerns about just getting a job - any job - featured overwhelmingly high on a number of the questions we asked, much more than the usual student concerns of debt and what to do next. It is no surprise, then, that heading overseas is the plan for many."

Auckland woman Rachel Brook is considering that move now as she struggles to find a job after completing her four-year physiotherapy degree last year.

Although the 23-year-old didn't expect to walk straight into a job, she never dreamed it would be this hard.

She has applied for about 15 positions and had a few interviews but in most cases the job has gone to someone with experience, so she's starting to reconsider her options - including reluctantly moving to Australia.


"There's just a lot more out there in Australia, it's a bigger place, there's more [jobs] online ... and the pay's better."

Steven Joyce, Minister of Tertiary, Skills and Employment, said the survey showed an understandable nervousness around job prospects given the global financial crisis.

"In reality, due to our proximity to Australia and Asia, this part of the world is likely to be one of the best places to start a career post-tertiary study over the next several years compared to most of Europe and the US.

"The key thing is for students to complete their study and complete it well; and that will stand them in good stead as the world economy recovers and New Zealand's growth strengthens."

The findings follow recent reports that 27 per cent of Year 9 students want to permanently move overseas and that student loan holders who do go abroad tend to have bigger loans than those who remain here after completing their study.