UK graduates mired in low-level jobs
While there has been a ‘steady increase’ in the number of graduates in the UK population since 1992, nearly half of recent UK graduates are stuck in low-skill jobs, according to new research from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
47 percent of recent graduates were in non-graduate jobs between
April and June this year. A decade ago, similar data showed that
a mere 36 percent of graduates held lower-skill jobs, and even in
2008, only 39 percent of recent graduates were in undergraduate
jobs, according to the ONS.
The statistics are stoking fears the country is seeing a ‘massive
waste’ of talent, while education is simultaneously becoming
increasingly expensive for the young.
“The pre-recession rates of underemployment of graduate skills in the UK economy were already disappointing - the post-recession rates represent an alarming jump in under-employment and a massive waste of investment in skills,” Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist in a widely-distributed statement.
“Despite signs of a wider jobs recovery, the pick-up in the graduate jobs market has been less pronounced,” Andrew Hunter, co-founder of jobs website Adzuna told Reuters. “In the face of fierce competition, many grads are being forced to take on lower-skilled jobs,” he said
Students are being weighed down with ever-increasing debts that
compound their lack of professional progress. After 2012 an
increase in the tuition fee cap hit 9,000 pounds ($14,400) per
year, with the majority of UK universities charging the maximum.
This meant that 2011/2012 graduates had a 60 percent higher student loan debt than 2007/2008 graduates.
The report also found that among employed graduates, a wage
divide remained and that male graduates were earning more than
female graduates in 2013. “On average, a male graduate earned
three pounds ($4.80) more an hour than a female graduate,”
according to an infographic measuring salaries between April and
The figures did signify an increase in employment with nine out
of 10 graduates in work, in comparison to those who left school
after national standardized tests taken at the age of 17/18 -
where 83 percent were employed.
However, while Britain’s rate of unemployment is technically at its lowest in over three years, it appears that the workers are not being absorbed into professional career paths. Unemployment among recent graduates was measured at nine percent in the second quarter of this year – rising from five percent over the same period in 2008.
Steve Radley, director of policy at manufacturers' organization
EEF stated that UK youth needed to be lured into the science and
engineering sectors. He said the figures “highlight the major
impact that subject choices have on earnings. Graduates in
engineering are the second highest earners and those in physical
sciences earn far beyond average,” adding that in the science
and engineering sectors graduates could help drive the economy
Those with medical and engineering qualifications were found to
be earning the best salaries, while those who graduated with arts
and humanities degrees had the biggest problems in securing
employment and were the most badly paid.