Tough realities of graduate jobs market revealedChallenging times, but graduates remain optimistic

07 November 2012

Graduate prospects

Graduates remain optimistic despite a difficult employment market

Although 40% of graduates are in non-graduate level jobs and one in 10 are unemployed, most are optimistic about their future career options, a long-term study reveals.

The study, commissioned by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU), has tracked students who started university in 2006 and followed them for six years, after graduating into one of the worst recessions in a century.

Tough times for graduates

More than one in 10 graduates have been unemployed for considerable periods - and of those who are employed, 40% are settling for non-graduate level jobs, a 30% increase from ten years ago.

While those with a degree still earn on average significantly more than their non-graduate peers, the benefit appears to have been declining by up to as much as 2% each year over the past decade.

Graduates 'remain positive'

Nonetheless, graduates remain remarkably optimistic, with 70% satisfied with their future career options and a resounding 96% said they would still do a degree if starting the process again.

Which? head of public services Jenni Allen said: 'It's encouraging to see that graduates believe university was a worthwhile experience and investment for them, but this study illustrates just how important degree course and university choices are, as this can have huge implications for graduates' futures and finances.

'That's just one of the reasons we've recently launched the Which? University website, so that people have free access to impartial information - including employment outcome prospects for 150 different subject areas - and can more easily choose the right course and university for them .'

HECSU research director Jane Artess said: 'Even in the wake of the recession, the onset of higher fees and large debts, graduates remain positive in the face of adversity with great confidence that their degree has been worth it.'

Thinking of university?

Head to Which? University's advice section, where you'll find top tips from careers experts and employers on how to improve your chances of standing out in a crowded graduate jobs market:

  • Get involved in extra-curricular activities – from becoming a student ambassador to helping out on the union's radio station, there are usually things on offer to enhance your CV.
  • Learn to sell yourself – arrange a mock interview with a university careers adviser and start building on your confidence.
  • Make the most of work experience opportunities – your university is likely to have a job shop or schemes for work experience and volunteer work.

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