At last, the truth is out: 30% of graduates never get a graduate level job

Nov 19, 2013

For years, those trying to help graduates get a good job have been trying to decipher the welter of graduate employment stats that are produced by various organisations. I have always felt that the numbers of graduates who never gain “proper” employment has been seriously underestimated. Possibly, some of this obfuscation has been deliberate policy on behalf of successive governments who for years now have been preaching that graduates (by implication, all graduates!) earn a hefty premium over their working lifetime.

Now the real numbers in stark detail have been revealed at a recent (really excellent) conference on graduate employability put together by the Westminster Higher Education Forum.

The numbers which were the result of 20 years of data from the Warwick University Institute of Employment Research, showed conclusively that unlike the early 90’s when less than 5% of graduates never entered the graduate level workforce, nowadays almost 30% never do.

UK labour market 1992 – 2013

Jim Gervaise-Brazier
Source: Elias and Purcell 2013 (info based on UK Labour Force Surveys, January – March quarters each year

And of course never will.

This data has never been made publicly available until now but surely the implications for policy makers, students, parents and universities are profound.

Nowadays, even an average 2.2 from an average university in England and Wales costs English or Welsh students at least £60,000 (if they live away from home). This debt will take almost all of their working lifetime to pay off.

And if all they are going to do is to enter the non-graduate level workforce, where they will be paying the loan off until they are 55, then what is the point of them obtaining a degree?

The current system surely needs a radical overhaul.

It is not fit for purpose. All the stakeholders involved (policy-makers, universities, students, parents and employers) need to completely rethink post-18 education.

To do nothing would be scandalous.

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