The recent suggestion here that university is now too expensive to be the best option for many young people certainly struck a nerve.
According to new figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), it also seems to have hit the mark:
The ONS reports that, over the past decade, the percentage of recent graduates working in lower skilled jobs in the UK has risen from 26.7% in 2001 to around 35.9% in 2011.
Other interesting statistics:
- The number of recent graduates has increased by around 41% over the past decade
- The 2008/2009 recession took the greatest toll on the employment rate for recent graduates compared to all graduates and non-graduates.
- Graduates with an arts degree earn the least at £12.06 per hour.
- Those with a degree in medicine/dentistry earn the most at around £21.29 per hour.
- Non-graduates earn around £8.92.
- New graduates (those graduating within two years) have the highest unemployment rates.
Leaving higher education in the teeth of a recession is obviously not great for new graduates. Then again, it’s not exactly a bed of roses for those who skip university – but they at least also skip the high debt and foregone earnings that going to university now entails.
According to a recent article on graduate unemployment in The Guardian:
Graduates leaving university found it harder to get jobs in 2011 than students finishing A-level courses, as youth unemployment hit its highest level since the 1980s, official data shows.
In 2011, 20% of 18-year-olds who left school with A-levels were unemployed compared with 25% of 21-year-olds who left university with a degree, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Graduate unemployment rates were almost on a par with those for people leaving school with just GCSEs, with 26% of 16-year-olds with these qualifications out of work.
Interestingly enough, after a bit of waffle from a union leader about the importance of higher education, the article notes that:
All of the UK’s “big four” accountancy firms, which between them recruit several thousand graduates each year, have established degree-equivalent school-leaver training programmes, including Ernst & Young which launches its programme in the autumn.
Stephen Isherwood, head of graduate recruitment at Ernst & Young, said […]:
“There is a sense that the mantra of the last few years that everything is about university is not necessarily right, and that A-level students should really be thinking about what they want to do and whether that means going to university, and making sure they get the best deal for themselves.”
Please read my original long discussion about the pros and cons of university – and the great comments from readers that followed – if you want to know more.
You can also download the full ONS release on graduate careers and their fortunes in the labour market.