20,000 Students Without a Job After Leaving University

Almost one-in-10 students failed to find a job after leaving university last year amid a continuing squeeze on graduate positions, figures show.

Some 20,000 former students were unemployed six months after finishing courses – 50 per cent up on the jobless rate before the recession.

Official data shows that students taking media and computing degrees were hardest hit, with around one-in-seven being left on the dole.

Thousands more graduates were forced to take low-skilled jobs as cleaners, porters, supermarket shelf stackers, factory workers and bar staff.

The disclosure – in data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency – comes just days after it emerged a record 83 university leavers are now applying for every graduate job.

The squeeze on top positions is likely to be intensified in coming years because of public sector job cuts. There are also fears that the private sector will be unable to accommodate rising numbers of graduates leaving university following a recent expansion of higher education places.

But David Willetts, the Universities Minister, insisted the jobs market was showing “encouraging signs of improvement”.

The Coalition’s higher education White Paper will also boost graduate employment prospects, he claimed, as students are given better information about degree courses that lead directly to a job and universities are required to collaborate more with local businesses.

Today’s figures reveal nine per cent of graduates overall – some 19,335 – were assumed to be unemployed six months after finishing courses last summer, compared with 10 per cent a year earlier.

But it still represents a sharp rise compared with the six per cent of graduates that were without jobs before the recession in 2006 and 2007.

Mr Willetts said: “The graduate jobs market is showing encouraging signs of improvement, with an increase in employment for the first time since the beginning of the recession.

“However, new graduates still need to work hard to maximise their chances of success. The higher education White Paper outlines proposals that will deliver a greater focus on graduate employability.”

According to Hesa, unemployment was higher among men than women, with nine per cent of male students out of work after six months, compared with six per cent of women.

Students were much more likely to be unemployed if they took certain degrees, it was revealed. Some 14.4 per cent of those graduating from computer science courses were without jobs, while 13.1 per cent taking mass communication degrees, which includes media studies, publishing and film production, were unemployed.

The figures show that 715 graduates took jobs in factories, 13,485 were doing administrative or secretarial work and a further 9,070 were in relatively low-skilled “elementary” positions.

Some 16 per cent of UK students were taking postgraduate courses and a further seven per cent were combining work with further study.

Taken from The Telegraph: 30.06.11