UK graduates struggling to find jobs

More than a quarter of UK graduates who left university in 2007 still lacked full-time work three and a half years later. Who'd be a student now?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 14 Aug 2012

That’s according to a survey by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which surveyed over 49,000 graduates back in November 2010. While it’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds at first – 21 % of that rather hefty number were working part-time or studying, and 3.6% gave their response as ‘other’ – 3.5% were still actually considered properly unemployed. And that’s a notable leap from the 2.6% found to be unemployed in a 2008 survey of graduates from 2005 (which was in turn a jump from 2.3% of 2003 grads).

Such figures make for depressing reading, and make it all even less clear why someone would choose to go down that route in the first place these days – of course, education is a good thing in its own right, but that for youngsters that may be increasingly difficult to appreciate: if you’re making a three or four-year commitment that's going to wind up costing the earth, it’d be good to be able to go in feeling confident of a job to help pay off the crushing debt. And beyond the cash element, the survey found that that 21.5% of those questioned did not think that university had prepared them for their career, with 6.4% saying it had not prepared them at all.

Which is all a bit grim. At least there’s good news for those who do manage to land a job:  84.2% said they were satisfied with their careers to date. That's a welcome statistic - if you read too much about students in certain sections of the press these days it'd be easy to imagine they're too busy swinging off Cenotaphs to even consider gratitude for what they have.

Meanwhile the survey also threw up yet more evidence of the lasting gender inequality, following a similar message from CMI figures out earlier this week. Of the graduates from 2007, 14% of the men in full-time work were earning between £30k and £35k, compared to just 9.3% of women. In comparison, 29.4% of women were earning £20k to £25k, compared to 15.6% of men.

In fact, with the economy on both sides of the Atlantic looking pretty shake at the moment, it might be a good time to extend that gap year...

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