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Graduate unemployment in steep drop, new data suggests

BBC Education Graduate

There has been a big fall in graduate unemployment in the UK, the latest figures suggest.

The Higher Education Careers Service Unit (Hecsu) analysed the destinations of 256,350 new graduates six months after they left university.

Some 7.3% were unemployed in January 2014, down from 8.5% in January 2013 and the lowest level since 2008.

The figures are a “fascinating example” of how quickly the graduate jobs market can change, says Hecsu’s Charlie Ball.

The deputy director of research said students should “bear this in mind when deciding which subject to study”.

‘Better prospects’

The report says that although new graduates are likely to “bounce around or can’t find what they are after immediately”, the size of the survey makes it a “reliable snapshot” of how they are faring as a group.

The figures, published jointly with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, suggest 70% of new graduates were in employment by January 2014.

The researchers suggest better employment prospects have resulted in fewer graduates in further study – some 12.4% of the total, down from 13% the year before.

Some 5.6% were combining work and study, leaving 7.3% unemployed and 4.7% listed as “other”.

The figures also suggest more graduates were in professional and managerial work – 66.3% of new graduates, compared with 64.9% the previous year.

Fewer were working as retail, catering, waiting and bar staff – down to 13% of the total from 13.7% the previous year.

Further shocks?

Graduate employment in recession-hit sectors such as science has picked up slightly but many with science and technology degrees still find themselves in other jobs, say the researchers.

The numbers of new graduates employed as science professionals in January 2014 were still quite small, just over 2,000, but the researchers say this represents an increase of almost a quarter (22.4%) on the figures for 2013.

“There are significant increases in employment across all sectors and the turn in fortune is spreading beyond the South East with graduates in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester doing particularly well,” said Mr Ball.

“If you are located away from the major cities and are yet to feel the upturn, there’s a good chance it will reach you in the months to come, assuming there are no further shocks to the economy – although there are no absolute guarantees.”

He said it was encouraging that more graduates were finding work in the science, technology and engineering and construction sectors but cautioned that the story was a complex one “of demand and supply”.

“It is vital that students seek careers advice early and take work experience to better inform their decisions and prepare for employment.

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