Good signs for UK students as graduates get into work

Students can expect to do well when they have finished their degree courses…

The academic year may be young, but students in the midst of their studies at university can be buoyed by the fact that their employment prospects are positive.

Figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that more UK graduates are now in work than at any other time since the recession. A group of more than 80,000 graduates who finished their studies in 2011 were asked by HESA about their current employment status in November 2014.

HESA found that 94% of UK graduates were either in work or further study three and a half years after their undergraduate courses ended. 

Of those, 88% were in employment, 6% in further study and just 3% replied to say they were unemployed. In total, 80.5% of those in work were engaged in professional jobs.

The last time graduate unemployment was this low was in the 2008 study, which looked at the ‘class of 2005’.

It’s good news on the pay front too, with the median salary of those in full-time employment standing at £26,000 after 3½ years compared to £22,000 after six months.

Speaking about the employment prospects for graduates, Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “UK graduates are still in a substantially better position to obtain a job and, on average, earn substantially more than non-graduates over a working lifetime."

Recent government graduate labour market statistics showed that more graduates are in work this year than at any time since 2007. Graduates also earn almost £10,000 a year more than people without degrees.

Skilled graduates are increasingly in demand from employers. The Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) predicted an 11.9% rise in vacancies this year, following an increase of 4.3% last year.

The kinds of skills that higher education provides, the ability to think critically and to analyse and present evidence, are lifelong and are going to be increasingly in demand as the number of high-skilled jobs increase.

Many graduates do not go straight into their chosen careers after graduating. Some will get short-term jobs to fund further study or to go travelling. Employment figures looking at what graduates are doing three and a half years after graduation show that the vast majority are in full-time employment.”

Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson, also welcomed the positive trend when it comes to graduate employment prospects, telling the BBC: “These latest statistics are a further welcome sign that so many graduates enjoy high levels of employment, but there is more to do to ensure students get the teaching they deserve and employers get the skills they need.”

The study also looked at how happy the graduates were with their jobs and, in retrospect, their degree courses.

About three-quarters of graduates said they thought their course prepared them well for their career and roughly two thirds thought their course had been good value for money. In total, 86.5% said they were happy with their career to date.

Recent figures from HESA have also shown that the picture is doubly positive for Scottish students – with graduates earning more and feeling happier than their English counterparts.

A Universities Scotland spokesman told The Independent: “Universities are working closely with employers to design courses and create work placement opportunities for students, so that we are producing skilled graduates and a strong talent pool for Scotland to fill jobs and attract more businesses to invest in the country.”

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