Wednesday, 26 October 2011

New GMT Out

Autumn 2011 GMT Launches

Marking the start of a new academic year, the autumn edition of GMT launches with the latest information, debate and research into higher education, graduate employment and careers.

GMT Autumn 2011 is published by HECSU and focuses on graduate employability with an inspiring collection of interviews, new research and debate. Highlights include:

· Graduate employability in 2012 – discussed by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service’s President Elect Dr Paul Redmond.

· How to enable a high-skilled economy which supports and prepares businesses to compete in a more demanding global environment – Yes Minister’s Director Dr Floyd Millen.

· Why higher education is so important to the UK economy, and the risks and challenges of attracting international students – the Institute for Public Policy Research.

· Reforms for creating closer working relationships between universities, employers and students – graduate employability expert, Judy Smith

The autumn edition of GMT can be downloaded free of charge.

And do look out for our now regular features in The Guardian HE Network!

For any questions, queries and comments please contact the editor:

Friday, 14 October 2011

Where should postgraduates expect to work?

Ah, more fun with regional data.

It might come as no surprise to hear that if you've a PhD and don't want to work in academia, the most likely place for you to start your career post-graduation is London. However, what then gets interesting is where else people start.

If you're a medical scientist, graduates were next most likely to leave the country. Greater Manchester was the third most likely location place to get a non-HE job.

Almost all other PhDs were also most likely to leave the UK if they weren't in London, and then were likely to go to work in and around Cambridgeshire. Oxford, Greater Manchester and Hertfordshire were also popular with scientists. Bristol and Surrey with engineers and Oxford, the West Midlands and Tyne and Wear with arts and humanities. Psychologists showed less of a fascination for Cambridge, preferring the West Midlands, Kent and Surrey.

So, doctoral graduates, you might want to factor in housing costs post-HE.

For Masters graduates, with a rather different labour market, London's obviously the main destination - in fact, the Masters jobs market is more concentrated in London than the first degree market, with 29% of Masters graduates starting work there as opposed to 21% of first degree graduates.

But after that? You might be surprised. For biomedical graduates or engineers, the answer is Greater Manchester. For other graduates, it's leaving the UK entirely, followed by Greater Manchester and then the West Midlands - except for Masters graduates in the arts and humanities, where the next most popular place for graduates to work was West Yorkshire. Other popular regions were Tyne and Wear, Oxfordshire, Edinburgh and Merseyside, although there is certain deviation by subject.

But it's rather complicated and I'm aware that where to look for a job - and where you might be working - are important factors for young people juggling a budget. it's especially important that people who might be pursuing a career in a specific field, but come from an area where there are not a lot of local job opportunities in that area, are made aware of that so that they don't graduate, go home and then get frustrated because they can't find a job. This is going to happen a great deal in the difficult months ahead. We need to help where we can.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Turning data on its head

As I’m looking at regional information, let’s take a look at a way of examining information that I haven’t used yet.

One of the issues we have is that jobs are not distributed evenly around the country. If you’re looking for work and, say, you’re a computing graduate looking for a job in software design, and you’re from (sticks a pin in a map)….Stoke, what are your options? Where might you find a job?

Now, this is especially important for many young people, particularly those from less affluent parts of the country, because their options can seem quite limited – stay at home and seek work there even though there might not be very much, or look nationally and take a risk on moving somewhere with higher housing costs (they might not even be really affordable) even though you might not know the local labour market. It’s a tough choice.

But DLHE can help here, because it gives us an idea of where people went for their first job.

Let’s take a look at one especially tricky area at the moment – environment and conservation work. Only 360 graduates from last year were known to be working in a job of this nature (I have kept the criteria pretty narrow, so there are probably more in reality) six months after graduation. We could look at that entire selection, but there's one thing we need to do first.

Our graduate would like to get paid. The environmental sector has rather a lot of unpaid work, but we still have 220 graduates who got a paid job, so let's look at them only.

As we can see from this graph, the opportunities for last year's graduates are not evenly distributed. Whilst this is one profession where a move to London is not likely to reap instant rewards,  our Stoke graduate (in the West Midlands) might find more opportunities away from home - perhaps as far as Scotland or Wales - or even out of Europe entirely.

Let's focus down further, though. Scotland looks a pretty reasonable bet to get a paid job in the environment. But Scotland's big. Where should our graduate look?

Well, examining the data, it looks like there are three potential places that might currently work best - Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Angus on the East Coast of Scotland.

If our Stoke graduate wanted to stay nearer to home, looking west to Shropshire might be more fruitful than staying within Stoke itself, and it does look as if there might be some opportunities in Staffordshire.

This is an approach we don't normally take in HECSU when we examine  destination data - working backwards from the roles people might want to do, but with people finding local options to be limited, maybe it's something we can do a little more of.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New economic figures out

The Stats Office have just published employment data for the summer and, well, the labour market noticeably worsened.

Unemployment went up to 8.1%, the highest figure for 2 years, employment went down, just in time for new graduates to hit the jobs market.

It is going to be a rocky autumn for graduate jobseekers - let's give them all the support we can, and let's hope things improve or next year's destination data may not be cheerful reading.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Thinking locally

As anyone who saw me at AGCAS Biennial will now know, I've been working on a detailed examination of the graduate labour market down to sub-regional level and how it has been affected by the recession (the last one, that is, not the current economic circumstances that may or may not turn out to be the start of a new one).

I'm finishing the factsheets that some people have seen at the moment and then will get to grips with the major labour market report, which examines each region of the UK in turn, before doing some analysis of graduate mobility and regional retention.

There's a lot of data to be examined and a number of conclusions to be drawn. The recession has had an impact on local labour markets and made this kind of analysis more important - there are a lot of differences between London and the rest of the country, unsurprisingly. As the attached figure, showing the number of last year's graduates known to be working in each region six months after graduating, shows, London and the south east are important, but most graduates don't work there.

It's become plain that there's a need to keep everyone up to date with local developments and we're always keen to hear from people who maintain a watch on local labour markets and are happy to share information and resources. After all, you may be an expert on the Manchester labour market, but if you've got a student from Plymouth who wants to go home after graduation, you need to be able to get that data from somewhere.

Also, if people have useful links and resources for local labour market information, we'd be very keen to know so we can get together a good library of local resources for everyone.

Information sharing is the best way to ensure we all have the best tools for students, and we hope that the information we'll be sharing will be useful for the sector. More to come soon.