Graduate job prospects continue to decline

Izzy Bowen - News Reporter 19 November 2012

A new study has suggested that 40% of graduates nationwide are failing to find graduate-level jobs, a figure double that of ten years ago. The ‘Futuretrack’ study, commissioned by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit and carried out by Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research, also suggested that the graduate salary premium has declined by up to 2% a year since 1999, compared with average national earnings. Unemployment remains an issue, with 10% reporting ‘significant periods’ out of work.

Kate Purcell, a professor at the institute, who led the study with her colleague Professor Peter Elias, told The Guardian: “The good news is that most of them say they’d do it again…But the short term, unequivocal fact is that there’s much higher graduate unemployment than there has been and there’s much more incidence of people doing jobs which are clearly not jobs that use their skills and qualifications.”

The study did however note differences across universities. The average salary of graduates from less-renowned universities had dropped 30% since 1999; for the top universities the figure was just 17.5%. Gordon Chesterman, the Director of the University of Cambridge Careers Service, speaking to The Cambridge Student, warned against complacency but believed there was reason for optimism among Cambridge students. Cambridge is third in the Russell Group for students securing graduate-level jobs, and just 5% of recent Cambridge graduates are unemployed. Cambridge graduates choosing to enter the job market are still especially targeted by employers, despite a drop in vacancies.

Perhaps the most striking issues raised by the survey are related to equality in employment. Male graduates earn on average £2000 more than female graduates; non-white graduates are much more likely to experience unemployment; and those from non-university backgrounds stand a greater chance of finding themselves in a non-graduate job. The arts/science divide, meanwhile, continues to grow,

Izzy Bowen – News Reporter