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More graduates in work

Kathleen Henehan

Kathleen Henehan

Former ​Policy Analyst
Universities UK
Graduate working at a PC

This morning saw the latest publication of the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA)Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Longitudinal Survey – and the data is encouraging.

Since 2012, when the survey was last conducted, graduate employment rates have increased. The percentage of graduates who are satisfied with their careers and the percentage who reported that higher education prepared them well for their careers have also risen. Moreover, the vast majority of graduates – 81% – are in professional jobs within three and a half years of leaving higher education. It suggests that graduate skills are very much in demand.

While many are familiar with the annual Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE)survey – looking at what leavers from higher education are doing six months after graduation – thelongitudinal version is conducted approximately 3.5 years after graduation.

Six months Vs three-and-a-half-years

In the six months after graduation, many students will often be in temporary jobs or travelling, as they contemplate their future careers. The longitudinal version provides a more accurate picture of graduate employment outcomes. The survey targets a sample of those who had responded to the original six-month DLHE; this particular version was conducted in late 2014 and surveyed students who left higher education in 2010/11.

What does today’s data show specifically?

  • Graduate employment rates are on the up: three and a half years after graduation, 88.3% of 2010/11 UK domiciled graduates are in work, as compared to 87.1% of the 2008/09 graduates.
  • The vast majority of graduates are in what HESA categorises as ‘professional jobs’: 80.5% of all UK domiciled graduates and 77.2% of full-time first degree graduates.
  • Graduates are more satisfied with their chosen careers: 86.5% of all UK domiciled graduates are very or fairly satisfied with their careers to date. This is up from the 2008/09 cohort: when surveyed in 2012, 83.5% of all graduates.
  • The vast majority of graduates also report that their HE experience prepared them or progressed them well/very well for their career aspirations: 76.1% of all UK domiciled graduates reported this, as did 73.7% of first degree graduates. For the 2008/09 cohort these figures were 74.7% and 72.2%.
  • Median salaries are also on the rise: three and a half years after graduation the median salary of all UK domiciled graduates in the 2010/11 cohort is £26,000; for first degree graduates it is £25,000. For the 2008/09 cohort these figures were £25,500 and £24,500, respectively.

Growing demand for graduates

In spite of challenging macroeconomic conditions over recent years, the data show that graduates continue to be in high demand. In fact, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) surveypredicted an 11.9% response in graduate vacancies this year.​

What’s more, Graduate Labour Market Statistics for the first quarter of 2015 show that, on average, working age graduates earn £10,000 more per year than non-graduates.​​

Add to that, yesterday’s data release from the ONS – which shows that in 2014, those with higher education comprise 43.7% of the nation’s human capital stock, despite comprising just 35.8% of the population – and it becomes clear that university education is a great asset,  both for individuals and for the economy.

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