Graduate unemployment on the rise


Graduate unemployment is rising for the first time in a decade, according to figures released on November 11 by the Careers Service Unit (CSU).

The proportion of people out of work six months after completing their degree rose to 6.3 per cent from 5.5 per cent the previous year. The main factor behind the rise has been the decline of the information technology industry, the annual What Do Graduates Do? report reveals.

Of the 2001 graduating cohort, 67.7 per cent found work within six months of graduation, with nearly a fifth, 18.4 per cent, of graduates opting for further studies. Nearly two thirds, 65 per cent, of graduates in work secured professional employment.

"We predicted last year that graduate unemployment had levelled out and was unlikely to dip any further," said Mike Hill of the Careers Service Unit (CSU), one of three co-authors of the report. "This current increase follows two years where graduate unemployment remained at an all-time low and is still a long way from the highs of 8.2 per cent five years ago and around 12 per cent a decade ago."

Degrees in Civil Engineering and Accountancy offer the best employment prospects for graduates, followed by Business and Management Studies, Media Studies (contrary to popular belief) and Building.

The decline in the IT industry accounts largely for a rise of just under one percentage point in graduate unemployment which increased to 6.3 per cent in 2001 from its all time low of 5.5 per cent of the previous two years, and reversing a ten year downward trend.

The report, published by the CSU, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, concludes: "Much of the drop was due to decreases in opportunities in finance, IT, engineering and technology services and management consultancy. London and the South-east, where many of the vacancies were concentrated, were the two hardest-hit regions.

"However, despite the economic and recruitment slowdown, the situation may not be as gloomy as first appears." Three-quarters of the 750 employers interviewed said they were experiencing difficulties in recruitment – although not all the jobs they were finding hard to fill were of graduate standard.

Graduate employment trends often mirror popular culture and the 2001 cohort is no exception. Numbers of female graduates studying Law increased by nearly 400 over the five years from 1996, the largest increase across all degree subjects covered. This was followed closely by Media Studies and Psychology. Overall, the most popular subject for women was Business & Management Studies.

What Do Graduates Do? 2003 - data for the report was gathered through the annual first destination survey comprising information compiled by careers advisers on 176,415 graduates, representing 84 per cent of the total (UK domiciled) graduating force of 209,945.