Half of recent UK graduates are in non-graduate jobs, says ONS

By staff writers
November 20, 2013

The 2013 report from the Office of National Statictics (ONS) released yesterday (19 November) reveals that almost half of recent graduates in the UK are in non-graduate jobs.

It reported the proportion of recent graduates working in jobs for which a higher educational background is not usually required was 47 per cent this year, up from 39 per cent before the financial crisis struck. Most of the increase has come since the 2008/9 recession, says the ONS

It found that people with a degree in medicine or dentistry had the highest employment rate at 95 per cent, followed by those with media and information studies degrees at 93 per cent. The next highest employment rates were for medical-related subjects, such as nursing or midwifery, technology, agricultural sciences and architecture. The employment rate was lowest for those with humanities degrees, at 84 per cent, while arts, languages and education were also among the lowest rates.

Medical graduates also had the highest median pay, at £45,600 a year but media and information studies graduates had the lowest pay of all subject groups, at £21,000.

Labour market experts said the high number of recent graduates – defined as those who left full-time education in the last five years – who were not in graduate jobs was a worrying sign for the economy.

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the jobs search engine Adzuna,said: "In the face of fierce competition, many graduates are being forced to take on lower-skilled jobs. Our last jobs report found that there were more than 50 graduates competing for every entry level job in September. Advertised graduate salaries fell 3.4 per cent compared to last September, and our latest data shows graduate vacancies have fallen 19 per cent in the past year to October."

Commenting on the report, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Francis O'Grady said: “While university leavers are still better paid and more likely to have a job than non-graduates of the same age, their prospects are worsening, just as their debts are soaring.

“Having got themselves tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt, nearly half of all recent graduates are doing lower-skilled jobs. This is in turn pushing young people who don’t have a degree out of work altogether.

“The government’s approach of making young people pay more to get less from higher education is deeply unfair and makes no economic sense. Ministers should admit that ‘any old job’ is not good enough for heavily-indebted graduates and start prioritising high-quality job creation.”

The ONS figures are available here: www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171776_337841.pdf

[Ekk/4]

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