Good news as graduate employment rises

Graduate unemployment saw its biggest drop in 15 years according to new research from the Higher Education Careers Service Unit

HECSU’s annual What do graduates do?1 publication reveals the destinations of 256,350 full and part-time first degree graduates in January 2014 – six months after they had left university.

The report found that the number of employed graduates increased from 73.6% to 75.6% year-on-year.

There was a drop in further study as graduates take advantage of improving employment conditions, falling from 13% to 12.4% year-on-year. There are now more graduates in professional and managerial work, with a drop in the number of graduates in non-professional jobs. Mature graduates are doing particularly well: a higher proportion (77.2%) were in professional and managerial work compared to all first degree graduates (66.3%).

Prospects for graduates going into some of the more severely recession-hit sectors have improved significantly in the last 12 months with all STEM and building management subjects experiencing higher employment and lower unemployment rates. The number of graduates working as science professionals increased 22.4% year-on-year. Graduates were commonly working as biochemists, medical scientists, civil and mechanical engineers and architects.

The employment outcomes for graduates with first degrees in building and engineering were better year-on-year than graduates from all subjects, with architecture graduates doing particularly well (83.6% employed and 6.1% unemployed).

Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at HECSU said: “The last 18 months are a fascinating example of how quickly the market can change, and students must bear this in mind when deciding which subject to study.

“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. If you’re 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.

“The biggest turnaround has been the outcomes of graduates from STEM and construction-related subjects. It’s encouraging that STEM skills are so highly sought, but there is a complex story of demand and supply, so it’s vital that students seek careers advice early and take work experience to better inform their decisions and prepare for employment.

What do graduates do? can be downloaded from 25 September 2014 at

1 What do graduates do? is published in collaboration with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) It is based on data from the HESADestinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2012/13.




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