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  • INSTITUTE FOREMPLOYMENT

    RESEARCHD E E

    graduate careers

    three yearsafter graduation

  • The Higher Education Careers Services Unit (CSU) wasfounded in 1972 and is a registered charity jointly owned by the

    CVCP (Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals) andCSCFC (The committee of Vice Chancellors of the Scottish

    Centrally Funded Colleges) and SCOP (Standing Conference ofPrincipals.) Working in partnership with careers services, CSUis responsible for developing and providing a comprehensive

    range of expert publications and services (The ProspectsSeries).

    The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services(AGCAS) represents the careers services and over 1000 staff in

    over 130 institutions of Higher Education throughout the UKand Eire. It promotes collaboration in producing information ongraduate careers, training & professional development, qualitystandards, and innovation. It has links with many government

    departments and agencies involved in HE, industry and theprofessions, including a close partnership with CSU.

    The Institute for Employment Research was established by theUniversity of Warwick in 1981. It aims to promote advanced

    study and research in areas such as the relationship betweenthe labour market and the rest of the economy, labour market

    behaviour and policy and influences on them. It has publishedseveral studies on the demand for the highly qualified.

    This work was produced under contract with the Departmentfor Education and Employment. The views expressed are those

    of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of theDepartment for Education and Employment or any other

    Government Department.

    Additional funding for this project was also received from theScottish Higher Education Funding Council

    1999 Higher Education Careers Services Unit, CareersServices Trust, Institute for Employment Research

    All Rights Reserved. Small extracts from this document may bephotocopied for educational purposes only, but should be

    acknowledged DfEE-CSU-AGCAS-IER Moving On GraduateCareers Three Years after Graduation. Otherwise no part of this

    publication may be repreoduced, stored in a retrieval system,or transmitted in any forms or by any means electronic,

    mechanical, photocopying, rewriting or otherwise without theprior permission of DfEE-CSU-AGCAS-IER.

    Any queries regarding research methodology should beaddressed to:

    Professor Peter Elias at IERUniversity of WarwickCoventryCV4 7AL

    Further copies of the report are available from: CSU LtdProspects HouseBooth Street East ManchesterM13 9EPTel: 0161-277 5200Fax: 0161-277 5210

    Copies of the full report (ISBN 1 84016 069 1) are alsoavailable from CSUPrice: Within EC 40 including postage

    Outside EC 50 including postageAll orders must be prepaid in sterling

    Photographs on the cover and inside this publication courtesyof Loughborough University, Photodisc and Eh6 design (takenon location at Heriot-Watt University).

    Published by: CSU LimitedPrinted by: APS (Allied Publicity Services) Limited

    AcknowledgementsThe production of this detailed and wide-ranging study on arelatively short timescale would not have been possible withoutthe co-operation and assistance we have received from a largenumber of individuals and institutions. We are deeply indebtedto staff at the 33 HE institutions that agreed to participate in theenquiry, often involving a considerable amount of administrativework to generate address lists and in mailing questionnaires.Questionnaire production, mailbase maintenance and datacapture was undertaken by Xerox Business Systems. LindaWilson at the IER performed additional mailbase maintenanceand further data processing. Lynne Conaghan at IER handledthe production of various drafts of this report.

    Throughout the duration of this project a Task Group, a smallgroup of individuals drawn from our Advisory Group, hasassisted us. Particular thanks are due to Janet Gawn of theDfEE, Pat Raderecht of the CSU and Kate Dodd of AGCAS.Dan Johnson and Steve Haddican at the CSU have assisted usgreatly in the final stages of preparation of this report forpublication.

    Above all, our thanks to more than 11,000 leavers from highereducation institutions who took the time to provide us withdetails of their career paths since graduation.

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    31 2contents

    introduction 2

    setting the scene: defining andcharacterising the career paths ofhigher education leavers 3

    graduate employability andperformance indicators: firstdestinations and beyond 5

    unemployment in the early careers of leavers from highereducation 7

    getting ahead? additionalqualifications, training and work experience 9

    moving on and matching up: the fit between undergraduatestudies and graduate jobs 10

    guidance and career planning 12

    conclusions 13

    references 13

    the evolution of employment and type ofoccupation from July 1995 to December1998

    the impact of personal characteristics onearnings three and a half years aftergraduation

    the impact of degree characteristics onearnings three and a half years aftergraduation

    the experience of unemployment among HEleavers (July 1998 - December 1998)

    average value of quality of employment index,by cumulative duration of unemployment

    average earnings of graduates, by mainsubject area and gender

    figures

    tables

    percentage of respondents unemployed sixmonths or more during the three and halfyears since graduation

    participation in further study since 1995, bydegree subject

    main activity at time of survey, by gender

    sources of careers information and guidanceused since leaving higher education (%)

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    The graduate labour market has changed radically in the lasttwo decades. Increasing proportions of young people now

    extend their education well beyond the compulsory requirement. Also, older people who missedout on higher education at the school leaving age, have been returning as adults seeking to developtheir potential and their career options more fully. In a period where the financial costs to studentsof acquiring a higher education are rising, it is important to understand how the benefits from suchan education may differ, particularly in terms of degree subject and institution attended.

    Changes in the structure of employment with the continuing shift from manufacturing to servicesand the more recent emphasis on knowledge-based services (often used to refer to IT-orientatedemployment) have favoured the highly-qualified. But these changes introduce a degree ofuncertainty into the labour market. As new areas of work emerge, new graduates have to carve-outcareer routes rather than follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. Not only are graduates havingto seek out new areas of work, they also have to compete with a much larger group of equally wellqualified contenders. Career guidance has a clear role to play in helping new graduates release theirpotential and in easing their transition from higher education to gainful employment. The HigherEducation Careers Services Unit (CSU) has recognised the need to keep up-to-date information onthe graduate labour market and in the last few years has invested in a number of highly influentialsurveys. Most recently, surveys have traced the experience of a cohort of graduates from theirexpectations in their final year (Great Expectations? 1996) to their actual experience 18 months aftergraduation (Working Out? 1999).

    Higher education represents a considerable amount of government investment even if, in morerecent years, at least part of the cost of higher education has been transferred tostudents and their families. The merging of the Departments for Education andEmployment (to create the DfEE) has created greater synergy between educationprogrammes and skill needs in the labour market. Perhaps the most pertinentindication of this is the pending publication of performance indicators for highereducation institutions, due in early 2000, which will judge HEIs in terms of theemployability of their alumni. It therefore seems appropriate that these twobodies (DfEE and CSU) should come together to finance a major study of theearly career paths of a cohort of graduates and Diplomates who qualified in1995.

    studying the career paths of 1995 graduates/diplomates

    The experience of a sample of graduates and Diplomates who qualified in 1995 in terms of theirearly career paths, reflections on the adequacy of careers guidance, their subject choice and theusefulness or otherwise of further periods of study can help to inform future generations ofgraduates, careers advisers and policy makers alike.

    In 1998, the Department for Education and Employment, together with its Scottish, Welsh andNorthern Ireland counterparts, agreed with the CSU and the Association of Graduate CareersAdvisory Services to launch a detailed and comprehensive study of the career paths of leavers fromhigher education institutions who graduated in 1995. The intentions of this study were multiple. Itwould be the first major study of leavers who had participated in higher education following thecreation of the new universities in 1992. It would track the progress of graduates over a three anda half year period, from July 1995 to December 1998, examining in particular their progressionwithin the labour market in terms of the jobs they acquire and the utilisation of their newly-gainedskills and knowledge. It would examine the role of careers guidance and advice as they planned toenter the labour market and subsequently. Above all else, it would attempt to characterise the newgraduate labour market - examining the ways in which graduates position themselves and progresswithin the UK labour market in the latter part of 1990s.

    An important issue to be addressed in this study relates to the definition and measurement ofgraduate employability. HE institutions face up to a new environment in which their relativeperformance comes under increasing scrutiny. Important among a range of performance indicatorswhich will assist in the planning and delivery of higher education outputs are those which relate toand derive from information on the subsequent career paths of graduates.

    the nature of the study

    The core of the present study stems from a postal survey of approximately five per cent ofdomestically domiciled leavers from higher education institutions in 1995. Certain HE institutionsare excluded from this study, notably the medical schools, art and design colleges and the OpenUniversity. From a sample of the remaining institutions, over ten thousand first degree graduates

    shortreport

    introduction

  • movingo

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    and Diplomates were contacted three and a half years after graduation and gave details of theireducation, career paths and their current situation. Additionally, a small number of respondentswere contacted and interviewed by telephone or agreed to participate in detailed discussions whichexplored in depth some of the issues raised in the postal enquiry.

    Further details of the sampling methodology, survey weighting procedures and samplerepresentativeness are contained in the appendix to the full report. The results are broadlyrepresentative of all persons who gained a higher education degree or diploma in 1995.

    the structure of this report

    The following pages of this report show key findings and accompanying figures and tables fromanalyses of this new study of the career paths of graduates and Diplomates from higher educationinstitutions who qualified in 1995. The areas covered, reflect the substantive chapters of the fullreport and can only briefly deal with the issues discussed in the full report.

    In the full report, five social science researchers, each with an interest in the graduate labour marketbut differing in terms of their own subject discipline have contributed to an assessment of the earlycareer paths of 1995 graduates and Diplomates. The chapters reflect both their own areas of interestand expertise and their different approaches to the subject area.

    One of the major tasks faced in conducting this study relates to the need tocharacterise, compare and analyse the career paths of a sample of leavers fromhigher education institutions who qualified in 1995. To facilitate this, a set ofindicators were established, derived from their work histories and labour

    market status at the time of the survey. These indicators have been developed using information onemployment status, occupation and some subjective indicators of the type of job in which theleavers found employment.

    This chapter, by Peter Elias and Abigail McKnight, essentially sets the scene for the chapters thatfollow. It describes in detail how five different measures that were utilised for the purpose ofcharacterising career paths and outcomes three and a half years after leaving higher education weredefined.

    information sources

    The 1995 Survey of the Career Paths of Graduates and Diplomates was designed so that it had, as itscore, an event history within which the respondent recorded details of their employment status.

    Another section of the postal questionnaire consisted of a set of questions designed to be answeredby respondents who were employed at the time of the survey, requesting further details of theircurrent job.

    characterising career paths

    Unemployment (and possibly non-employment) yields a rather crude and essentially negativeindicator of a career path. Two other indicators have been developed, based upon the job in whichthe respondent is working in any particular month. These are defined as an objective measure ofa graduate job1 and a subjective measure of a graduate job. In the former case, the term objectiveis used because the definition of the graduate job is based upon the classification of occupations interms of the typical qualification level of employees in these jobs. By this method, the threecategories defined above were related to average educational levels in the following way:

    setting the scene: defining and characterising the career

    paths of higher education leavers

    traditional graduate occupations employees in occupations classified to thisgroup typically have 5 years of additionaleducation after the age of compulsoryschooling and a minimum of 4 years.

    graduate track occupations employees in occupations classified to thisgroup typically have 3 years of additionaleducation and a minimum of 2.5 years

    non-graduate occupations employees in occupations classified to thisgroup typically had 1.5 years of additionaleducation

    1 Although we use the term graduate,both classification schemes recognisethat not all of our samples are graduatesand threfore will not be expected toenter high level traditional graduate jobs.

  • This three-fold classification can help to characterise the employment profiles of HE leavers intodifferent types of jobs and illustrates career progression. As the figure above shows, around one-quarter of HE leavers are employed in non-graduate occupations immediately after completing theircourse in 1995 (nearly 40 per cent of those in employment), but this share falls fairly rapidly overthe first year to 17 per cent. By December 1998 only 10 per cent of all leavers are in a non-graduateoccupation.

    Conversely, the subjective graduate job relies upon the respondents view of their job and theextent to which they state it requires or makes use of their qualifications, skills and knowledgelearnt. From the responses to these questions we constructed the following categories:

    Graduate entry, using degree Graduate entry, not using degree directly Non-graduate entry job, using degree Non-graduate job, not using degree

    In the above, using degree refers to those jobs in which respondents indicated that they were usingsubject/discipline knowledge, or skills learnt, or both. Graduate entry means that their academicqualifications were required. A non-graduate job is a job for which respondents stated that theiracademic qualifications were not required.

    characterising labour market outcomes

    Labour market outcomes are measured in two ways. First, earnings are used as an indicator ofeconomic success. However, we are aware that for some individuals and in certain occupations,actual earnings may not be a good indicator of the nature of the labour market some three and ahalf years after graduation. For example, some career paths are characterised by relatively lowearnings in the early years (solicitors, doctors). Also, some graduates may place significantly morevalue on other aspects of their jobs than simply how much they earn. For this reason an index ofjob opportunities is developed - a count of how many, within a specified range, positive jobopportunities their job affords them.

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    the evolution of employment and type of occupation from July 1995to December 1998

    % non-grad

    % grad track

    % trad grad

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  • 2movingon5Unemployment among higher education leavers is fairly high immediately upon completion of their1995 studies, but falls very rapidly over the next few months. Each summer in the following threeyears, the proportion of respondents who are unemployed rises slightly, as those who had enteredfurther full-time study upon completion of their 1995 qualification attempt to enter the labourmarket.Non-employment (ie not being employed, in full-time study or unemployed) falls over the firstsummer after the cohort leaves higher education and then remains at a low and fairly constant levelthroughout the rest of the three and a half year period covered by this study.On average, men gave a higher score to their current employment than did women, withsignificantly more men than women stating that they had five or six of these positive job attributes. There is a general movement of respondents into graduate entry jobs and using their degreeknowledge/skills over the 42 month period covered by the study. This arises for two reasons. First,as employment among the cohort of 1995 leavers expands (especially with the entry intoemployment of those who undertook further study), so the proportion in graduate jobs increases.Secondly, a significant number of respondents commence work after their 1995 qualifications in anon-graduate occupation, then progressively improve the match between their skills, knowledgeand the extent to which these are utilised in their jobs.The share of leavers in traditional graduate occupations and graduate track occupations increases asthe share of the cohort in employment increases. Overall the share of employment in traditional-graduate occupations increases from around 40 per cent in July 1995 to over 60 per cent inDecember 1998. This chapter, by Abigail McKnight, is written from an economic perspectivelooking at ways in which graduate success in the labour market, and itsdeterminants, can be quantified. Particular emphasis is placed on theimportance of early labour market outcomes in predicting future labour marketdifficulties. This piece complements other work she has done in this area with a strong emphasison performance indicators for higher education institutions based on measures of graduateemployability. The main results that emerge from this chapter are that while unemployment is frequently used toassess the employability of graduates, there are many other important dimensions to graduateemployability. A number of measures, ranging from subjective to objective assessments of thequality of jobs, are examined. However, it is shown that the experience of unemployment in the first18 months is indicative of labour market difficulties. In terms of performance indicators a surveyconducted somewhere around 12 and 18 months after graduation would provide measures ofunemployment indicative of longer term labour market difficulties and measures of job quality forthose who are in work.

    Unemployment at 6, 12 or 18 months is indicative of longer term difficulties in the labour market.On average, graduates unemployed 6 months after graduation spend 30 per cent (13 months) ofthe first three and a half years unemployed, compared with less than one month for graduatesemployed 6 months after graduation. Graduates unemployed at 6 months are also more likely to beemployed in a non-graduate occupation in the future than employed graduates are.

    Institution ranks based on unemployment rates at different points in graduates early careers arevery unstable because unemployment rates and their dispersion fall rapidly over time.

    Unemployment rates by institution at 6, 12 or 18 months are highly correlated with averageunemployment duration over the full three and a half years covered by the survey.

    Institution ranks based on the proportion of employed graduates in a non-graduate occupation aremore stable over time than ranks based on unemployment rates.

    key findings

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    1

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    5

    graduate employability and performance indicators:

    first destinations and beyond

    key findings

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    Employment in a non-graduate occupation is associated with particular degree subjects, gender, lowentry qualifications and degree class. Even after controlling for these factors, the probability ofemployment in a non-graduate occupation is higher for graduates from some institutions thanothers.

    Earnings three and a half years after graduation are related to gender, age, prior qualifications, degreeclass and subject (see figures below). Graduates who are unemployed six months after graduationtypically earn 16 per cent less than graduates who were not, other things being equal. Aftercontrolling for students personal characteristics and degree subject an institutional effect isidentified.

    Three and a half years after graduation only 2 per cent of economically active graduates areunemployed and less than 10 per cent of graduates are in a non-graduate occupation. Mostgraduates move into work with relative ease and most graduates find work in traditional graduateor graduate track occupations.

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    This chapter, by Peter Elias, explores the extent and consequences ofunemployment in the early careers of new graduates and Diplomates. Thechapter presents a graphical view of the varying experiences of unemploymentand their association with labour market outcomes three and a half years after

    graduation. The relationship between individuals characteristics (age, ethnicity, parental socialclass, gender), course studied and institutional characteristics, and their subsequent experience ofunemployment, is investigated. A number of interesting findings emerge from this analysis ofunemployment among qualified leavers from higher education institutions. These are:

    A significant proportion of highly-qualified leavers experience a short spell of unemployment afterqualifying, but most of these experiences are transitory (see figure below).

    Despite its predominantly transitory nature, it took about two years after graduation forunemployment among 1995 higher education leavers to stabilise at its minimum level of about 2to 3 per cent.

    Certain personal characteristics correlate with a worse than average experience of unemploymentafter graduating (see table overleaf). These are:

    being male; over 50 years of age; of non-white ethnic origins; having parents who were not in employment when the graduate was 14 years old.

    Investigation of the possible links between higher education and unemployment showed: no difference between the experience of unemployment for those who studied at old

    universities compared with those who studied at new universities. those who pursued a course with a clear vocational link (eg education or medicine and related)

    were much less likely to be unemployed than those whose course was broadly defined (eginterdisciplinary studies).

    the class of degree obtained associates with unemployment. Those who obtained a lowersecond or a third were more than twice as likely to be unemployed in the three and a half yearsafter graduation than those who obtained a first.

    The cumulative duration of unemployment experienced after graduation shows a markedassociation with both earnings and an index of the quality of the job held three and a half years aftergraduation. Those who were unemployed for more than six months have lower earnings and recordfewer positive attributes about their current job (as shown in figure overleaf).

    unemployment in the early careers of leavers from

    higher education

    key findings

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    the experience of unemployment among HE leavers (July 1995 December 1998)

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    type of institution attended

    old university (pre 1960) 7.91960s univ./CATs 8.11992 university 7.2HE college (inc. teacher Training) 8.3

    type of course completed in 1995

    Dip HE 1.8HND 6.9HNC 2.3other diploma (below degree) 1.7undergraduate degree 7.9

    subject area studied

    arts 11.7humanities 10.3languages 7.1law 6.8social sciences 8.4maths and computing 8.4natural sciences 10.2medicine and related 3.4engineering 4.7business studies 6.0education 3.4other vocational 6.8interdisciplinary 15.6

    age in 1998/99

    25 or under 7.026-29 7.630-39 9.240-49 7.750 and over 11.6

    % unemployedmore than six months

    gender

    male 9.4female 5.8

    class of degree obtained in 1995

    first 4.4upper second 7.0lower second 9.0third 15.0unclassified honours 10.3ordinary or pass degree 9.6diploma 3.3

    social class of parents

    professional 6.7managerial and technical 7.0skilled non-manual 6.2skill manual 9.1partly skilled 7.8unskilled 10.6armed forces 4.8no parent in work 17.9not known/not stated 8.4

    ethnic origin

    indian 9.8pakistani 18.0bangladeshi 19.8chinese 15.0asian (other) 7.1black caribbean 5.2black african 12.9black other -white 7.4other 10.9

    % unemployedmore than six months

    percentage of respondents unemployed six months or more during the three and a half years since qualifying

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    A number of key findings related to participation in further study and attitudesto getting ahead in the graduate labour market have emerged from analysesof the postal survey and the qualitative interviews. These are:

    Participation in further full-time study reached a peak of 17 per cent in October 1995, reflecting thatalmost a fifth of respondents continued in postgraduate level education after completing their initialqualification. There was little variation between the participation rates of men and women.

    Over half of all respondents had participated in further (non-leisure related) study since graduation,as shown by discipline, below. The majority of these were engaged not in full-time study but in part-time or short courses. Evidence from the qualitative interviews suggests that many such courseswere accessed directly through employment.

    Those most likely to participate in further study were under 25 years and had completed aqualification in a non-vocational subject in 1995.

    The most popular reasons for undertaking further study were expressly career-related, particularlyamong those undertaking Masters courses. The fact that more non-vocational graduates undertakefurther study would suggest that it is this group who feel the greatest need to bolster theiremployability by accruing additional qualifications.

    Interviews with respondents such as Emma, below, would suggest that the majority of graduatesand Diplomates are highly conscious of the need to continue collecting skills during their workinglives. The first degree was perceived very much as a way in to employment opportunities and afoundation for further learning.

    Work experience was perceived to be a crucial key to the labour market among those interviewed.Many felt that on their exit from higher education they were not work-ready because they lacked

    basic workplace experience, particularly those who graduated with non-vocationaldegrees.

    Respondents were invited to reflect upon their overall experiences in making the transitionfrom higher education. Several messages emerged from analysis of their responses. Forstudents, acquiring work experience prior to leaving higher education is a key factor infacilitating the transition into employment. For careers services, helping students to reflecton the skills acquired from such experience is crucial. Given the number of respondentsembarking upon further study to enhance their job prospects, more extensive labourmarket information on postgraduate course outcomes would also appear to be crucial. Forhigher education institutions in general, the key message is to improve links with employersso as to facilitate opportunities for work placements among students particularly those innon-vocational subjects. For employers, offering continual skills development and trainingopportunities for their graduate employees would appear to be a key factor in retainingthem. Finally, for graduates themselves, work history evidence supplemented by thequalitative interviews reveals the need for many to be persistent in seeking graduate-levelemployment.

    key findings

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    Emma, Sociology and Psychology, highereducation college: I dont really know where Ithought Id be by this time; I had no idea aboutmy career, so I had no expectations. I didntreally feel equipped to start work when Igraduated. It was silly things like answering thephone properly, composing a letter to a client;e

    mm

    a Id never had to do those things, and I didntknow how. Work experience might have helped.My degree probably wasnt such a goodinvestment. Not much use in me getting a job. Ithink it is probably too broad and Ill need an MAor Diploma to actually get a job that makesmore use of my skills. Id like to move into

    counselling and have started evening classes inbasic counselling skills, but Id probably have todo the Diploma on a part-time basis as it is quiteexpensive and then I could keep earning. Itllprobably take around seven years to get.

    getting ahead: additionalqualifications, training, and

    work experience

    law 78.3

    natural sciences 63.5

    languages 63.5

    social sciences 63.3

    humanities 63.2

    arts 62.6

    interdisciplinary 53.7

    medicine and related 52.3

    business studies 51.4

    other vocational 46.1

    engineering 43.6

    maths and computing 43.1

    education 30.8

    total (weighted)= 36393

    Participation in further study since 1995,by degree subject (%)

    degree subject in further study

  • 21 3

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    In this chapter, by Kate Purcell, respondents careertrajectories are examined in terms of their own reporting ofthe extent to which their degree was required and used inthe jobs they had. Then, for those in employment at the time

    of the survey, current job is examined, exploring occupation, industry sector, contractual status andsize of organisation. In addition, respondents perceptions of the extent to which their degree wasimportant in enabling them to obtain this job is examined. Throughout the analysis, differencesbetween women and men are monitored, and the question of the extent to which changing patternsof graduate employment are contributing to a reinforcement or dilution of occupational gendersegmentation is addressed.

    moving on and matching upthe leavers from

    higher education

    main activity at time of survey, by gender

    activity at time of survey male female total

    % % %

    full-time, career-related 69.0 63.6 66.3

    full-time, other 15.1 16.3 15.7

    part-time 3.0 7.5 5.3

    self-employed 3.6 1.8 2.7

    other employment

    (details unclear) 0.7 0.9 0.8

    unpaid/voluntary work 0.4 0.6 0.5

    full-time study 4.9 5.0 5.0

    unemployed 2.1 2.0 2.1

    out of the labour force 1.1 2.2 1.6

    total (weighted) = 100% 30077 29784 59861

    0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000

    females

    males

    arts

    humanities

    languages

    law

    social sciences

    maths & computing

    natural sciences

    medicine & related

    engineering

    business studies

    education

    other vocational

    interdisciplinary

    average earnings of graduates, by main subject area and gender

    average gross annual earnings ()

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    n

    11Over 65 per cent of 1995 graduates in employment were in jobs which required their degrees bythe end of three and a half years (see table on previous page) but 82 per cent of employed graduatesreported that they were using knowledge and skills developed during their undergraduate coursesin their current jobs.

    Those from new universities were less likely to be in jobs which required their degrees, but morelikely to be in non-graduate jobs where they believed that their graduate skills and knowledge wereused.

    Graduates with vocational degrees tended to enter the graduate labour market directly and weremore likely to be in jobs where their qualifications had been required than those who had studiedmore academic courses.

    Women were more likely to be in jobs where their qualifications had been required, but had lowerannual earnings (as shown in the figure on previous page) subject-by-subject, than their male peers.

    Vocational and quantitatively-skilled graduates find it easier to get jobs requiring their degrees thangraduates with more general degrees.

    Class of degree obtained was strongly correlated with whether or not a graduate was employed in ajob where their qualifications had been - but there had been a convergence among those withdifferent levels of award over the three and a half year period.

    The boundaries between graduate and non-graduate employment appeared fuzzy to many of thegraduates. Perception that current job was related to their longer term career aspirations was notsynonymous with being in a graduate-entry job; nearly half of those who regarded their current jobas career-related had not required a degree on entry, whereas around a quarter of those who did notregard their job as career-related were in jobs which required their degree.

    Vocational subject graduates - education, engineering and medicine & related - were most likely tobe in a job requiring their degree, whereas those in humanities, arts and natural sciences were leastlikely to be in such a job.

    Most graduates were in professional occupations, although substantial minorities were also foundin management and administration occupations or associate professional jobs: business andlanguages graduates in management and administration, education, medicine & related and law inprofessional occupations, medicine & related and maths & computing in associate professionaloccupations.

    There appears to be a slow convergence of graduate career paths, as time elapses and careers areestablished.

    key findings

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    I think its a good investment...Im younger thanmy brother and sister, who didnt go to university,and Im earning more than them already. Youneed to be qualified at degree level now if youwant to get anywhere.A social science graduate from an olduniversity

  • mov

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    12

    This chapter, by Jane Pitcher, explores the degree to whichcareers guidance and information was sought by

    respondents during their time in higher education and subsequently. It examines perceptions of theinformation for careers guidance of different approaches to career planning. The chapter drawssignificantly on the qualitative interviews and focus groups with graduates as well as survey datarelating to careers guidance and sources of information.

    The interviews brought out the fact that, for some, such as Colin (below), subjectchoice influenced use of careers advice and guidance. Some graduates who had takenmore vocational subjects had a relatively clear idea of potential options, whereas for lessvocational subjects, future directions were less obvious.

    Many graduates recognised in retrospect that they themselves could have made moreeffective and extensive use of the careers service. For many, such as Susan (below), thetension between getting a good degree and the need to consider a future career wasapparent. Pressures of final year examinations in particular were perceived as a barrierto taking the time to seek out information.

    Although it was recognised that students themselves need to take a more active role in their careerdevelopment, it was also remarked that careers services could publicise themselves more.

    It would appear that the careers service may be of particular benefit, over the longer term, to thosegraduates who are less clear about their options on leaving higher education but may be moreflexible in taking employment to give them the experience or opportunities required to enter thegraduate labour market.

    Susan, an English literature graduatefrom an old university: You have tospend so much time on applicationsthat youre torn between the two...doI spend time trying to get a job ordoing my degree? Its difficult tocombine them both. Its a full time jobtrying to work out what you want to beand your mind is still bound up inuniversity life.

    Colin, a computing and informationsystems graduate from an olduniversity (pragmatist and hedonist):...the main reason I did my coursewas for career reasons - got a goodchance of getting a reasonable joband stay there for a while ... be quitehighly paid. Second reason - Ienjoyed it anyway, cause Ive got ascientific mind.

    colin

    susa

    nguidance and career planning

    key findings

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    information advice and informationon careers guidance on vacancies

    job centre/local careers service 21.5 46.8 54.9

    recruitment agencies 17.8 8.9 31.5

    careers consultants 56.0 11.6 16.6

    careers publications 14.9 10.4 6.1

    internet 16.9 7.6 36.7

    managers or colleagues at work 17.8 46.9 19.0

    newspapers or journals 70.2 23.7 32.4

    total = 6152 3807 5522

    sources of careers information and guidance used sinceleaving higher education (%)

    Note: multiple response question - totals do notadd up to 100%

  • 3 movingon13Most of the unemployment experienced by graduates straight after graduation is short term. Threeand a half years after graduation only two per cent of economically active HE leavers areunemployed seeking work. However, unemployment in the first 18 months is indicative of labourmarket difficulties. Graduates unemployed six months after graduation typically spent more thanone year unemployed over the three and a half years covered by the survey and this early experienceof unemployment is associated with a greater probability of employment in a non-graduateoccupation in the future and lower average earnings. Judging institutions on the experience of unemployment among their alumni more than 18 monthsafter graduation will give a poor indication of leavers employability because unemployment ratesare low and the dispersion across institutions is narrow. The result is that very small differences inunemployment will be used to separate institutions and the resulting rankings will be very unstablethrough time. More informative measures of graduate employability are based on the quality of thejobs (both objective and subjective) that graduates gain.Many graduates and Diplomates find it necessary to undertake further periods of study to enhancetheir employability. It is not surprising to find that those who choose a non-vocational subject findthe greatest need to collect further skills before entering the labour market. While it is importantto maintain the academic content of these non-vocational courses, it may be possible to supplementthem with vocational (work-orientated) options.The issue of graduate underemployment has been examined from two perspectives - via anobjective assessment of occupations in which they worked and a more subjective point-of-view(whether graduates said a degree was required for their job and their use of knowledge/skills fromtheir degree course). Both perspectives demonstrate that the process of integration into the labourmarket is slow yet steady. About 10-15 per cent of graduates are employed in non graduate jobs(defined by either method) three and a half years after graduation, and this proportion is still falling.Although graduate underemployment is related to a variety of factors (class of degree, subjectstudied, institution attended and personal characteristics), the fact that it continues to diminish isstrong evidence that graduate underemployment, while it may be a transitional problem for manygraduates, does not appear to have become a permanent feature of graduates working lives.

    The increased pressure faced by graduates to perform well in their degree displaces effort requiredto find a job. While the onus is on graduates to seek careers advice, early intervention on the partof the careers service, particularly focused on students following non-vocational courses, could beextremely beneficial.

    Belfield, C., A. Bullock, A. Chevalier, A. Fielding, W. Siebert and H. Thomas (1997). Mapping theCareers of Highly Qualified Workers. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

    Incomes Data Services (1997). Pay and Progression for Graduates. London: IDS.

    Institute for Employment Studies (1996). Graduate Salaries and Vacancies 1996. Cambridge:Association of Graduate Recruiters.

    Mason, G. (1995). The New Graduate Supply Shock: Recruitment and Utilisation ofGraduates in British Industry. London: NIESR.

    Purcell, K., Pitcher, J., and Simm, C. (1999). Working Out? Graduates EarlyExperiences of the Labour Market. Manchester. CSU

    Purcell, K., Pitcher, J., 1996, Great Expectations: the New Diversity of Graduate Skillsand Aspirations. Manchester. CSU

    five conclusionsemerge

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