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Graduate unemployment drops for first time since the start of the recession

Graduate unemployment drops for first time since the start of the recession

But, levels remain high and recovery is slow, reports HECSU

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 11) 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 10:

*             284,160 students graduated in 10 with a first degree - a 3.6% increase on last year

*             69.7% (163,090 graduates) were in employment - a 7.9% increase on 09 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 08. Marketing, sales and advertising was the occupational group that saw the largest percentage jump in graduates in 10. 31% more graduates entered these roles in 10 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 09 and 10 editions of What Do Graduates  Do?, the 11 edition reports an improvement with 73.2% in employment  and a decrease in unemployment - from 10.9% in 10 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 &pound17,720 to &pound23,335 with London reporting the highest average salary at &pound322,480. Scotland saw the highest annual increase from &pound19,965 in 09 to &pound20,300 in 10.

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 07 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 325,000 compared to 320,000 at the six month survey.

What Do Graduates Do? is published in collaboration with the Association  of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and UCAS. The report can be downloaded at


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