Tuesday, 24 July 2012

“There are so many graduates these days, you need a Masters to stand out”

Myths about the graduate jobs market: Number 2
This one is probably best addressed by a very simple diagram

I go into a lot of detail about the outcomes for Masters graduates in the new Summer Graduate Market Trends, but the figures clearly tell us that whilst a Masters can be very beneficial for an individual, over 110,000 graduates last year found that they didn't need one to get a good job.

Summer GMT out

The Summer Graduate Market Trends is out!

It's an LMI special, with contributions from Professor Jenny Bimrose,  Lindsey Bowes and Simon Bysshe from the Centre for Enterprise talking about sharing careers-related LMI, a view from Canada, Paul Youngson from the University of Huddersfield on the KIS and Charlie looking at Masters graduates destinations.

Friday, 20 July 2012

"Everyone has a degree nowadays" - still a myth

Chart: Proportion of the UK working population aged 16-64, with NVQ4+ (degree or equivalent), and the proportion of the whole UK population aged 16-64, with NVQ4, from 2004 to 2011.
Just a quick bit to expand on the last post about the proportion of graduates in the population.

First, I have data for last year now, so the graph is updated

Data from the Annual Population Survey again.

The 25-29 and 30-39 age groups have the highest proportions of people who have been to university, and here is how the figures for those two groups have changed.

Chart: Proportion of the whole UK population aged 25-39, with NVQ4 or above,, from 2004 to 2011.

Even in the groups most likely to have a degree, most people in the UK have never been to university.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

“Everyone has a degree nowadays”

Myths about the graduate labour market: Number One

 “Everyone has a degree nowadays” 

There seems to be a belief that because the number of degrees has increased significantly in the last 20 years, as part of the drive to make our workforce more able to thrive in a globalised economy, that ‘everyone’ has a degree – or at least, so many people have a degree that it might now be the norm, not the exception.

In actual fact, most people in the UK have not been to university, and never will. 

Here is a chart showing how the proportion of the population of working age in the UK, and the proportion in work, in the UK, with HE qualifications, has changed in the 8 years to 2010.

Chart: Proportion of the UK working population aged 16-64, with NVQ4+ (degree or equivalent), and the proportion of the whole UK population aged 16-64, with NVQ4, from 2003/4 to 2009/10.

This data comes from the Annual Population Survey as analysed using Nomis, if anyone wants to check my working.

Less than a third of the population as a whole, and less than 40% of those in work, have been to university. Obviously, the proportion in work with HE qualifications is higher because people with university qualifications are less likely to be out of work, and the gap has widened since the recession. 

So, next time you see someone say ‘everyone has a degree nowadays’, you can be sure they’re not even half right.

Myths about the graduate jobs market

Of late, we've been seeing some hoary old legends about the state of the jobs market for graduates rising up out of the graves in which they should be interred, and shambling around bothering people and generally being tiresome.

We can't be having that, and since I've been doing some myth-busting when I give talks, I thought I'd expand some of those bits of presentation so we can all help make sure students and graduates aren't getting misled by folk with good intentions but bad data.

If readers have any HE myths they want deconstructing (or even confirming), then let me know.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Graduates entering professional occupations

Another quick graph - the proportion of employed graduates from the UK known to be working in an occupation classed as 'professional' or above six months after graduation.
I only have data back to 1994/5 - just as the economy recovered from the last recession.

All data, as usual, taken from HESA destination stats.

As we can see, not a lot of change in the proportion entering professional roles. Everything is in the 60-70% range, with dips after the dot.com crash, which sent a lot of economies into recession and caused a downturn in the UK graduate labour market, and obviously around the most recent downturn.
But a fluctuation of just over 6% in that entire time is not great, despite the annual number of UK-domiciled graduates increasing by approximately 100,000 over the time period in question.

(edited to be careful about drawing conclusions from a quick-and-dirty data hack - as we should all be!)

Friday, 6 July 2012

Some stats on industry of graduate employment

I've been taking a quick look at the change in starting industries for graduates from last summer compared to the year before.

It's quite interesting (to me). This uses destination data for graduates from 2010/11 six months after graduation and shows the change in the number of graduates known to be entering the top industries for employment over 2009/10.

After my stern stats warning earlier in the week, I must point out that a comparison by numbers is ok between the last two years, because the response rates are very similar - 82.3% for 2009/10, and 82.4% this year. But, of course, it's worth bearing in mind that it does mean slightly more graduates are in the sample for two reasons; first, because more people graduated, and second, because more of them answered the survey.

This covers only the most popular employment industries. At least 2,000 graduates from last year are known to have been working in each of these industries, six months after graduation.

Click on the graph if you want it larger.

Now, this doesn't say anything about the kind of job graduates got (although I can get that too), just the industries they get them in.

And, yes, retail sees the biggest real terms increase, although that's largely because it's so big and broadly defined. In fact, it was High Street retailers, specifically clothing retailers, that drove that increase, and although two thirds of graduates working there are in shop assistant roles, the number in management, purchasing, design and marketing roles all increased as well - this isn't just 'loads more graduates have to work as shop assistants', this is about an industry as a whole taking on more graduates last year in all kinds of positions.

Manufacturing, law and accountancy, and architecture and engineering all saw much larger percentage increases than retail, for the record.

And the big fallers are public sector and financial services. The latter is especially interesting, as the driver for the drop appears to be cuts in the number of graduates going into counter-clerk, call-centre and customer service roles - in other words, non-graduate jobs. There was also a modest fall in the number going into banking IT roles - wonder if that includes NatWest? - and a fall in the number of graduates going into investment banking but not significant in this context as we don't have many investment bankers every year. The number of graduates entering financial analysis and project management roles in the sector went up, and most other jobs stayed broadly flat.

So there are interesting stories going on here. Some sectors are on the rise, but not necessarily increasing the number of graduate-level oppportunities.

Some are falling, but not necessarily reducing the number of graduate-level opportunities.

And just looking at data on a superficial level may mean you miss some really useful information.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Can you get a job with a 2:2 or below?

According to the new DLHE, 63,355 graduates from last year (2010/11) known to have 2:2 or below were known to be working six months after graduation, with an overall employment rate of 72%.

61% of those who were working were in a professional occupation (which maps crudely to 'graduate level employment') just six months into their careers.

Can you get a 'good' job with a 2:2?

Yes. We have the data to show it that lots of people do just that.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

The number of graduates in basic jobs has doubled in five years

No, it hasn’t.

The number of graduates working in 'menial jobs' has not doubled in the last five years.
This is going to be quite long, and a bit technical, but will also contain a rather important and interesting statistical point.

The DLHE release was (belatedly) accompanied by a piece or two making the claim above, which stems from two major statistical mistakes and one selective piece of historical editing.

The simplest part of this is that five years ago we weren't in a recession and now we are. We're not going to be in recession forever (we might be for a while, but that's a different story), so just because some graduates are struggling now, doesn’t mean they’ll struggle for the rest of their careers, which will last for at least 45 more years. Also, it so happens that 2006/7 saw some of the best graduate employment figures for years, but that’s the comparison date, so it’s what we work with.

Now, the detailed stats stuff.

Let us go to HESA Strategic First Release on DLHE, here. Now, open Table 4A.

You might want to remark on the label for Table 4A: "Occupation of full-time first degree leavers entering employment in the UK by location of institution and subject area of degree 2006/07 to 2010/11".

So, this is data only for full-time graduates, not all graduates.

Now, let us look at the data itself. I'll reproduce the key bit here - it's an analysis by basic SOC classification, of graduates reported to be employed, for the last five years.



Standard Occupational Classification

Managers and senior officials
Professional occupations
Associate professional and technical occupations
Administrative and secretarial occupations
Skilled trades occupations
Personal service occupations
Sales and customer service occupations
Process, plant and machine operatives
Elementary occupations
Not known


Interestingly, the number of graduates reported as being in employment seems to have gone up by nearly 20,000, despite a recession being on.

Anyway, it's those 'elementary occupations' in there that have doubled. I mean, obviously going up from 5460 (out of 132,400) to 10,270 (out of 151, 245) isn't actually 'doubled', but it's certainly gone up a great deal (for the record, it's mostly waiting and bar staff jobs, unfortunately – but not cleaners as some sources suggest).

It's gone up from 4.1% of the reported full-time employed cohort to 6.8% of the reported full-time employed cohort, which is disappointing, but not apocalyptic. It's also not a very large proportion, so it's interesting that there's so much focus on it rather than, say, the associate professional and technical occupations, where all the nurses, accountants, marketing and PR, journalists, artists and careers advisors go.

For the record, if you include part-timers, then the overall figures for graduates in elementary occupations after six months, went up from 5,705 in 2006/7 to 10,750 in 2010/11.

In actual fact, everything below the first three categories in the table above are largely not graduate level employment, and the number of full-time graduates reported (to be in those categories has gone up from 43,975 (or 33% of reported graduate employment) to 56,200 (or 37% of the reported graduate employment). That's also disappointing, but again, not terribly good evidence of some kind of meltdown of graduate employment.

Of course the number of full-time graduates reported as being in graduate-level employment also went up from 88,425 to 95,040 over five years. Yes, more full-time graduates have been reported as finding graduate jobs in this recession than before it. That's rather good, as it happens, but not a figure conspicuously noted by reports. It's also, alas, not a terribly useful figure, as I'll explain in a minute.

But - and here's the stats bit - why have numbers gone up so much this year?

The answer is simple - and renders this whole analysis actually pretty much pointless, except for illustrative purposes. Of course, the number of graduates as a whole went up, but more importantly, the survey response rate also went up, significantly, between 2006/7 and 2010/11, from 80.1% for full-timers, to 83%, which, for this year's population of graduates, means almost 8,000 more graduates with known destinations just because of improved response. 

This means you shouldn’t compare the broad figures directly - you're not comparing like with like. Percentages are much more appropriate. It's a subtle, but quite important point.

The quoted figures are not for all graduates, and they are not comparable anyway. Compare percentages, and you can see that the proportion of graduates in less-favourable employment has gone up anyway, of course.

There are a lot of conclusions you could draw from the new destinations data release; that most graduates get jobs quickly, that unemployment is surprisingly low for graduates (but still too high), that the proportion of graduates out of work went back up again this year despite falling last year, that a stubbornly large proportion of graduates aren’t in graduate level employment on graduating, and that, basically, we’re still mired in a below-par labour market that hasn’t really budged much since the recession began. It's not as bad for graduates, at the moment, as it was in 2009, but it hasn't got a whole lot better since then.

What you can’t do is use the data to accurately say that the number of graduates in menial jobs has doubled in five years, and you absolutely cannot draw meaningful conclusions about the value of a degree based on that.