Thursday, 27 January 2011

Storyboarding - An innovative technique to support the career development of researchers

The International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University of Derby is currently piloting a new guidance technique called storyboarding. Designed by Bill Law, 3 Scene Storyboarding is a narrative technique which enables clients to reflect on the 'before, during and after' moments of a particular turning point in their life. Such reflection promotes greater self-awareness and ultimately helps clients to clarify their career goals.

Funded by Vitae, the iCeGS project is examining how this technique can help doctoral researchers and research staff to plan their career development. The project began in November 2010 when iCeGS invited careers professionals to learn more about the techqniue by attending a workshop. The careers advisers who participated in the workshop are now in the process of piloting the technique with their own clients and feedback from the pilots will be used to explore how storyboarding might be used with research staff in the future.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, please email Kieran Bentley or visit the project website at

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Graduate unemployment 'doubles'

The ONS have just released an analysis of graduate unemployment, based on the Labour Force Survey that concludes that 20% of graduates from 2010 were seeking work in Q3 2010.

There's also a podcast available.

There are a number of things that need to be borne in mind about this analysis.

Firstly, the ONS actually looked at everyone with Level 4 qualifications, which is everyone from HNC up. You would expect this unemployment rate to be higher than that for first degree graduates alone. And it only examines 21-24 years olds, and does not include mature students.

Secondly, it comes from Q3 2010. This is immediately after graduation (in fact, it includes July so covers the period around graduation - for part of the quarter some of those counted as 'graduates' hadn't even left university yet). So another way of looking at the data would be to say that last summer, even with all the doomy predictions about the prospects for graduates, 80% of them had already arranged something for when they left university. When viewed in that light, things look rather less difficult.

Thirdly, this is not comparable with HESA's Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) data directly. The Labour Force Survey looks at the whole economy and not graduates specifically, and so is not necessarily going to be as accurate as a survey that looks specifically at graduates. DLHE also, obviously, take place after six months. If you refer to the graph the ONS have provided, you can see that in summer 2009, unemployment for graduates was not a very great deal lower than for 2010. Yet six months after graduating, the graduate unemployment rate was 8.9%. This tells us that between the LFS reference of Q3 (ie September) and the DLHE reference, many - probably most - graduates unemployed in the summer of 2009 found employment in the autumn. And we expect that to have happened for 2010's graduates when we get the DLHE data later in 2011.

Finally, the ONS also confirms that those without degree fared far worse than those with degrees.

What, in the end, does this tell us? The job market remains challenging for graduates, but that taking all the data sources, many, if not most, new graduates unemployed in the summer, will have found work in the autumn. We need to give the best support we can to help students have something lined up for when they graduate, and to help those that are out of work to compete for the jobs that are available.

And now is not a great time to be young, out of work and with low qualification levels.

All sorts of reports

Very busy at the moment with reports and so on, so let's have a quick look at what is happening.

First, for people interested in regional LMI, the Centre for Cities recently published their Cities Outlook 2011, which examines the economic outlook for the UK's cities.

The view of the Centre is that Milton Keynes, Reading, Aberdeen, Leeds and Bristol are the cities best placed to lead a private sector recovery, and points out that a third of the UK's private sector jobs are found in 11 cities: London, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield.

Next up is the AGR Survey.  I'm going to give the survey a post to itself, but, like High Fliers, the outlook is cautiously positive with an increase in graduate vacancies - but not salary - expected.

You probably saw the GDP figures yesterday. I understand there was some media coverage, but if you have strong nerves, here is the statistical bulletin. Remember, this is just an estimate!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Graduate Career Stories

Students looking for their first job need more than just labour market information; they also need to understand how the graduate labour market operates.

In order to illustrate the complexity of the graduate labour market we invited 100 graduate employees to describe how they ended up in their current roles. If you're interested in reading about their experiences we recently published a booklet detailing the edited highlights of some of their stories on the HECSU website.

Looking for your first job can be frustrating at the best of times; when jobs are scarce it can be downright depressing. We hope that helping graduates to see that there is more than one route into employment will give them the confidence they need to keep going when they're looking for their own way into their chosen career.

Friday, 21 January 2011

High Fliers

Hello. Remember me?

One of the first big surveys of the year is out, and it’s the High Fliers survey, freely available online here

The survey covers the companies in the Times Top 100 and look at their views of the graduate employment market in December – so although it’s a limited sample, it’s a very timely piece of work.

The headlines have been dominated by the eye-catching revelation that a third of new employees are expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for the recruiting organisation. Although this has led to some slightly overheated copy, we must bear in mind that this is a survey of a relatively narrow selection of employers, many of whom are in the sample because of their internship and sponsorship programmes. 63% of the organisations surveyed offer industrial placements as part of their degree course, lasting 6-12 months and clearly, if you can snag one of these, it’s a great boost to job seeking.

This information does demonstrate the undeniable value – especially in a tough labour market – of work experience. It does not say that you have to have an internship to get a job. In fact, the employers sampled between them offer over 10,000 work experience placements for students and new graduates, with two sectors, law and investment banking, offering more internships than graduate vacancies.

There is salary data, but it comes with the usual health warning about the nature of the organisations surveyed; the salaries reported are rather higher than a typical graduate employee can expect in a first job.

The good news is that, as expected, graduate employment seems to be looking better than last year. All the information we’re receiving bears this out, so the Class of 2010 and 2011 ought to find things easier than their peers from 2009. However, also as expected, the prospects for the public sector are already looking less favourable than last year and we only expect public sector hiring to fall in the medium term as a result of cuts to spending.

Most employers in the sample offer vacancies outside London, with the North West the next most popular area outside London and the South East. Obviously, we’re pleased to see that!

Areas that have seen growth in graduate employment since 2007 include banking and finance (yes, I know), retail, consultancy and the public sector. A former employee of the pharma industry myself, I am not surprised to see that sector seeing the largest fall in recruitment – recruitment fell 44.4% amongst the sample between 2007 and 2011. The relatively severe hit construction took as a result of the recession saw engineering and industrial employers surveyed cutting vacancies by 38%, whilst investment banking vacancies fell 25% - although the latter expect to see a significant increase in vacancies (12%) this year.

Accountancy and professional service employers are intending to hire 10% more graduates, and the high street banks 25% more graduates than last year, which is very encouraging news.

This is an interesting snapshot of what was going on just last month and as such timely labour market information is often hard to come by, very well worth a read.