For most UK graduates employment is steadily increasing, unemployment is slowly decreasing and those in graduate level jobs has reached a record high, according to research published today (7 November 2011) by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).
HECSU’s annual, What Do Graduates Do? reports the destinations of full and part-time first degree graduates, six months after leaving university in 2010:
- 284,160 students graduated in 2010 with a first degree – a 3.6% increase on last year
- 69.7% (163,090 graduates) were in employment – a 7.9% increase on 2009 graduates
- Unemployment has gone down from 8.9% to 8.5% (19,785 graduates)
- Record number (100,265 or 63.4%) secured graduate level jobs – a 9.2% increase
The figures show recovery in business and financial services with 7.5% of graduates working in these occupations, the same as that recorded in 2008. Marketing, sales and advertising was the occupational group that saw the largest percentage jump in graduates in 2010. 31% more graduates entered these roles in 2010 compared to the previous year, fuelled by an upturn in graduate recruitment in advertising and digital media.
After reporting poor employment prospects for architecture and building management graduates in the 2009 and 2010 editions of What Do Graduates Do?, the 2011 edition reports an improvement with 73.2% in employment and a decrease in unemployment – from 10.9% in 2010 to 9.5%. More architecture and building management graduates found work this year as quantity surveyors, building surveyors, architectural technicians and assistants and town planners.
Charlie Ball, deputy research director at HECSU says: “While graduate unemployment has fallen, it remains high in comparison to levels reported at the beginning of the recession and graduates still face stiff competition – not just from their peers but also from more recent graduates. Slow but sustained economic recovery should be mirrored in the graduate labour market but developments over the next few months will need to be closely monitored.
“Many parts of the graduate employment market remain fragile, and recovery has not spread to all sectors or regions of the country. The jobs market for graduates is still vulnerable to bad economic weather and a continued recovery cannot be guaranteed in the current climate.”
The cuts in public spending are already having an impact on the number of graduates securing work in the sector. There is no major decline in the numbers of graduates working as nurses, doctors, and primary and secondary school teachers, but the clerical and secretarial posts in local government and the public administration and defence sector have been affected this year, dropping from 7.9% to 6.8% of graduates employed.
Reflecting salaries across the economy, graduate earnings remain flat. The average salary ranges from £17,720 to £23,335 with London reporting the highest average salary at £22,480. Scotland saw the highest annual increase from £19,965 in 2009 to £20,300 in 2010.
A longitudinal study1 launched earlier this year by the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that a graduate’s employment prospects improve over time. By surveying 2007 graduates, three and a half years after leaving university, it showed that 86.4% were in employment – 8.7 percentage points more than when the cohort was surveyed six months after graduation. There were also a lower proportion of unemployed graduates (3.5% compared to 4.7%). The median salary of graduates in full-time paid employment was £25,000 compared to £20,000 at the six month survey.