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UK – Graduate jobs market “better than feared”

11 October 2012

Job prospects for graduates are “better than feared” as the employment rate for new graduates remains relatively stable at 61.8% in 2012, a slight decline from the 62.2% seen in 2011, according to research published today by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

"When graduates from 2011 left university, the labour market was difficult, as the UK economy struggled with negative growth and a dip back into recession. In spite of this, over 166,000 of last year's graduates were known to be working in the UK six months after leaving university - nearly 8,000 more than the previous year,” said Charlie Ball, deputy research director at HECSU.

The data also indicates that more graduates are self-employed with this number having grown from 3.3% in 2007 to 4.8% in 2012. Salaries also remain consistent with the average pay for graduates employed full-time reaching £19,935 in 2012.

The figures show revival in the engineering and IT job markets, which have experienced poor employment outcomes since the start of the recession.

Despite the struggling construction sector, there was an increase in graduates finding employment as engineering professionals. 65.8% of employed mechanical engineering graduates (59.4% in 2011), 36.2% of electrical and electronic graduates (30.9% in 2011) and almost three in five civil engineering graduates (54.6% in 2011) were all working as engineering professionals in January 2012, six months after graduating.

Similar improvements were experienced in IT with an increase of 8.5% in the proportion of employed computer science and IT graduates. Nearly half (47.3%) of those who studied the subject and were in employment became IT professionals. Other common occupations were retail and catering (12.3%), and commercial, industrial and public sector managers (7.5%).

The public sector cuts continue to impact on graduates finding entry level roles, with graduates entering fewer admin jobs in health and education. This year figures also suggest that the availability of front line occupations have been reduced. Those most affected and with the largest year-on-year drop include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical radiographers, secondary and primary school teachers, probation officers and social workers.

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