Graduate jobless rate at new high
Unemployment among graduates is at its highest in nearly two decades as thousands struggle to find work, research has suggested.
Some 8.9% of those who left university last year (around 21,000) were without a job six months later as graduates suffered from the effects of the recession, according to a study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).
The last time unemployment among graduates reached these kinds of levels was during 1992/93 when it reached 11.6%, HECSU said.
The What Do Graduates Do? research is based on data collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which surveyed 82% of last year's graduates to find who was employed, in further study, or out of work.
The findings show that the public sector was one of the few areas to weather the recession, continuing to recruit new graduates. But new announcements of cuts in the sector could mean this is set to change.
The proportion of graduates gaining work as health professionals and associate professionals rose by 0.2% to 14.8% while the percentage employed in the social and welfare sector increased by 0.5% to 5.2%.
But there was a 0.1% drop in the proportion of students gaining employment as education professionals.
Charlie Ball, HECSU deputy research director, said: "Graduate unemployment hasn't risen as high as we feared and is some way off the levels of the last recession in 1992, when it reached 11.6%.
"Prospects for graduates in the short-term look brighter, with unemployment, as a result of the downturn, likely to have peaked and next year we expect to see a decline. However, with the anticipated public sector job cuts the future in the medium-term looks less clear."
The findings show that both retail and marketing increased their graduate intake last year while graduates with degrees in geography, law and psychology also fared well. All three subjects had unemployment rates lower than the average (7.4%, 6.2% and 8.3% respectively).