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Record number of new graduates in work, reports What Do Graduates Do?

Findings from the 2015 edition of What Do Graduates Do? show that a total of 199,810 graduates were known to be working in the UK six months after graduation, up 6% from last year and marking the largest number of new graduate entrants to the UK labour market on record.

Published annually, What Do Graduates Do? is the result of a close collaboration between AGCAS and Prospects, on behalf of the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU). 

The figures are compiled by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and then used by Prospects to produce the tables and charts. Expert commentary in the form of editorials is provided by members of the AGCAS Education Liaison Task Group, careers and employability professionals who work on a day-to-day basis with students, graduates and employers, in collaboration with members of the Prospects team.

The research reveals the destinations of 267,735 full- and part-time first degree graduates in January 2015, six months after they had left university.

Key findings

The new figures show that the graduate jobs market has recovered from the recession.

• The employment rate for new graduates had increased from 75.6% in January 2014 to 76.6% in January 2015.

• Unemployment rates were down to levels last seen before the recession in 2008, falling a full percentage point to 6.3% (7.3%, 2014).

• The number of graduates entering professional level jobs increased in both percentage and absolute terms. At 68.2%, the majority of working graduates were in professional-level employment (135,980). This increased by 11,280, marking a rise of nearly two percentage points (66.3%, 2014).

• The average graduate salary after six months stood at £20,637, a marginal rise on previous years.

Janice Montgomery, Chair of the AGCAS Education Liaison Task Group, said:

"The 2015 edition of What Do Graduates Do? contains good news! Graduate employment is up across many disciplines, unemployment is down and there is a sense of economic recovery and a more buoyant graduate labour market – despite increasing numbers of graduates every year. We hope our colleagues will find the commentary, the graphics and the specialist articles helpful in informing their practice when working with specific groups of students and introduce them to some excellent resources for dealing with issues like developing resilience and coping with disappointment in the career planning process." 

Regional employment

While London is by far the most common destination for new graduates with 21.3% of all working graduates starting their career there, it is a long way from employing the majority. The South East and North West employed more than 10% of working graduates each. Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oxford, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Sheffield and Belfast, and the regions of Surrey, Kent, Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Lancashire and Essex, all employed more than 2,000 graduates from the 2013/14 cohort.

Slight fall in numbers taking postgraduate study

As an improved economy leads to improved graduate prospects, the proportion of graduates going into postgraduate study tends to fall. The experience of the 2013/14 cohort was no exception with 17.6% entering full- or part-time study after six months, down from 18% in 2014.

Careers support

Eluned Jones, AGCAS President, said:

"It's encouraging to see this continued rise in graduate employability and we especially welcome the strong outcomes in students gaining graduate-level employment. This demonstrates the commitment of everyone working towards the employability agenda in universities, including careers services, students, academics, professional services and employers - all of whom play a vital part in this journey." 

Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence at Prospects, said:

"For this year's graduates the outlook is as good as it has been since before the recession, most graduates will get jobs quickly, and the large majority of those jobs will require a university education. But although the graduate jobs market has improved significantly over the last couple of years, that doesn’t mean graduates can just walk into a job. They will still have to work hard to get the jobs they want. They can get excellent support from their university – careers services have also worked hard during the recession and these improved graduate outcomes are also a testament to the quality of the advice and guidance offered to students."

Download the latest edition (2015) of What Do Graduates Do? 

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