Friday, 24 September 2010

What's happening in graduate employment?

Some of you may have 'enjoyed' the experience of seeing me do my roadshow at some point this summer, where I talk on a range of subjects, including the current and future state of the graduate employment market.

This seems to go down quite well and so I'll lay out some of the key messages we've been putting out over the last few months as a result of the work we've been doing

The labour market, including the labour market for graduates, is still difficult even though the recession has formally ended

The graph in this post shows why; in general unemployment continues to rise after recessions have ended and usually peaks some time later. As I've discussed before, the unemployment rate for graduates is probably going to remain high in historic terms for a little while yet

However, things may have passed the worst for the time being for graduates

There are a range of reasons; one is economic recovery, the other is simple demographics. The number of 18-year olds in the UK is going to steadily fall until 2020. The pool of home-domiciled potential university students is reducing, and so the rapid increase in university student numbers that has been a mark of the previous decade could be at an end.

Most graduates get work, and most who work get graduate jobs. There are, will still be, jobs for graduates

Even last year, at about the worst it's likely to get for this recession, the unemployment rate was 9% - well below historic highs of graduate unemployment. 62% of UK-employed working graduates were in 'graduate-level' employment six months after graduation. 147,250 graduates from 2008/9 were known to be working in the UK six months after graduation. Graduates will always be employable no matter the state of the economy.

Reductions in public sector employment may disproportionately affect graduates, and young graduates outside London in particular.

That's covered here. But we'll have to wait until October 20th to get a clearer picture

Little of this will be unfamiliar to many of you, but some of the stats might be useful. Obviously, I tend to say a bit more than just this, but we try to put across these key themes.

But we want to draw up a clearer picture of what's going on around the country, and so we'll be putting out a short survey soon to try to gauge what's happening and then pooling it as a resource for everyone.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

You can now post comments without registration

As a result of literally some comments and as a test, you can now comment without logging in.

Let's see how we go. For amusement, I might also tell you how much spam I've killed. We'll see.

If you could indicate who you are when you post, though, that will help work out who is using the blog and help us to write things that are more valuable.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Recession To Recovery: HECSU report for UUK

UUK have published a series of reports on the issues facing HE in the context of recession and public finance constraints, as part of their Recession To Recovery project.

We contributed one of the reports, Changes to student choices and graduate employment, which looks at the impact the recession has had on student choices and on the employment they went into.

There are also a set of appendices with rather a lot of data in there that ought to be valuable to anyone interested in graduate employment.

We did rather a lot of quite detailed analysis of graduate outcomes in there and hope that readers will find it useful in looking at the exact effects of the recession on graduate employment. If anyone has read it and has any comments or questions on the data we produced, we'd be happy to help.

So, if anyone's been wondering exactly what we've been up to this year, there it is. Well, some of it, anyway.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Demos and the Class of 2010.

Demos have just produced a report on the attitudes and aspirations of this year’s graduates for the insurers, Endsleigh. It’s called the Class of 2010, and has included the eye-catching recommendation that careers services should adopt a ‘recruitment consultancy model’.

I’m not sure that the recommendation about careers services, and another finding, that 
Overall, graduates feel that they are not getting enough support from their careers services when it comes to preparing for work or securing jobs
are actually evidenced in the report. There seems to be little discussion of careers service provision, and none of the graduates quoted seems to actually say anything like this. Where, then, did these recommendations and this statement about careers services not providing enough support, come from? It's an interesting suggestion and rather a bold one, and if it's well-supported it would be great to see that argument laid out robustly.

The report also states that 
 there is a noticeable lack of soft skill development amongst graduates.
I don’t think that the research, as quoted, supports that either.

The authors quote research that employers value soft skills, but this is not a startling revelation. The graduates surveyed seem to feel that they cannot articulate the skills that they have very well, but not that they are lacking in development. In fact, the report notes that the graduates feel they do have the necessary skills, and that they do develop them at university and there is some implication that they feel that employers don’t always make it easy for them to display them. This does not seem to translate into there being a ‘noticeable lack of soft skill development’, more that graduates may need support from their institutions in translating that into ‘employerese’. 

In fact, that's what the report says in the excutive summary. Not only is this not exactly a fresh insight, it is also exactly what current careers services strive to do, and so seems to contradict the report’s first finding.

I'm really not sure how the authors have got from the research as cited, to the idea that careers services "should reconfigure themselves as not-for-profit recruitment consultancies". Nor am I sure that this research shows that graduates feel that careers services are not providing enough support to students, or that universities are not developing the soft skills of their students. These are quite important criticisms to make of institutions, and they'll want to know how the authors have come to these conclusions.

There are, however, some interesting views from graduates about their skills and experiences and about their frustration with employers - these make a useful read.

Am I missing something?