The changing face of graduate careers

Posted by Michael Rainsford in ,

HESA has now released their destination of leavers from higher education study, and it makes for a very interesting read. The study aims to provide a snapshot of where graduates from the 2012/13 academic year are now situated in (or out of) the workplace. In 2012/13, there were 427,870 UK and EU leavers with a known destination, representing a 4% increase versus the 2011/12 academic year. Of this figure, 70% of all leavers were working, 7% were working and studying and 6% were unemployed - a marked improvement on the 7% unemployed figure from just one year ago.

Gender and Subject Divide

Digging deeper into the data, a high 8% of all male leavers were unemployed, compared to a figure of just 5% of all females. This disparity is an ongoing pattern in previous years of the study also. The relative performance of certain degree disciplines also highlights the considerable difference in employability across a broad range of subjects. For example, the unemployment rate for those graduating in Medicine and dentistry was 0%, closely followed by Education at 3%. At the other end of the spectrum and considerably above the national average, 2012/13 graduates in Computer science and "Mass communications and documentation" are 13% and 11% unemployment, respectively.
Despite the male leaver population displaying a higher unemployment rate than their female counterparts, the study also found that a higher proportion of males than females have salaries of £25,000 or more. The median salary of males was 5% higher versus females at a level of £21,000, whilst the mean average observed a gender gap in salary of £2,500 per year.

A breakdown by sector

According to the study, 66% of respondents categorised themselves as being in Professional employment, versus a figure of 64% in 2011/12. The largest non-Professional sector for leavers is sales and customer service roles, accounting for a high 35% of all those employed non-Professionally, marginally lower than leavers from the 2011/12 academic cycle. Of course, such data only provides a snapshot of leavers' career paths so is only indicative of industry splits given the high mobility of labour between sectors in the early years following graduation.

Supporting this view, a new study by New College of the Humanities finds, in a survey of 2,000 graduates, that 96% of those under 24 have already changed careers once or more since graduating.

Regional differences

The data displays some stark differences in the destination of leavers bases on their original domicile and area. For example, 98% of students at institutions in England entered employment in the same country, whereas this figure is considerably lower in Wales at a level of just 60%. This could be reflective of increased job opportunities in England upon graduation, and is likely explained almost in whole by the fact that the population of England is in the region of 18 times larger than the population of Wales.

The New College study added that almost a third of 16-24 year olds only spent an average of three to six months in each job role and one in ten respondents had switched jobs more than three times. Whilst this figure could be skewed by the nature of jobs that such an age range often find themselves within, the figures provide a solid basis to further explore the changing trends and attitudes in careers amongst the younger generations. In a rapidly changing world, where technological advancements are breaking efficiency barriers faster than they ever have before, graduates appear to be displaying less appetite than ever before to find a job for life and stick with it until they retire.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons.