Skip to content

Video Summary - Graduates in the UK labour market, 2013

Released: 19 November 2013

Also in this release

This is a short video about Graduates in the UK Labour Market in 2013

Considering the people in the UK in 2013 who were either women aged between 21 and 59 or men aged between 21 and 64 . . .
31 million were not in education.

Breaking these people down by the highest qualification they held, 38% were graduates. 21% were educated to A level standard, a further 21% were educated to A* to C grade GCSE standard and the remaining 19% either had no qualifications or other qualifications.

Focusing on graduates, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of graduates in the population since 1992, when the percentage stood at 17%. This is related to changes to the education system in the 1970s meaning it has become more common to go onto higher education and less common to leave education with no qualifications.

Moving on to focus on headline labour market figures for graduates, those educated to A level standard and those educated to A* to C grade GCSE standard.
These figures show that in April to June 2013, graduates were more likely to be employed, less likely to be searching for work and less likely to be inactive.

Focusing now on those graduates in employment and looking at the percentage of graduates working in non-graduate jobs, an upward trend is evident, particularly since the 2008/2009 recession. In April to June 2013, 47% of recent graduates (that is, graduates who left full-time education within the last 5 years) were working in non – graduate roles, this has risen from 37% in April to June 2001.

This upward trend may be linked to the increasing supply of graduates in the population together with the falling demand for graduates since the 2008/2009 recession.

Moving out to now look at a subset of graduates, those with undergraduate degrees. 
We define graduates as all people who have left education with a qualification above A level standard, this means that not all graduates in this report have an undergraduate degree.
In fact 53% of graduates in the UK in 2013 held an undergraduate degree.

Considering the employment rates for these graduates by the subject they studied, those with a degree in medicine had the highest employment rate of 95% while those with a degree in Humanities had the lowest, 84%.

Looking at average gross annual wages for these graduates, those with a degree in medicine again come out on top, earning an average gross annual wage of £46,000. Those with a degree in media or information studies have the lowest, £21,000.

Another factor that affects the employment rates and wages of graduates is gender.

In 2013, male and female graduates had similar employment rates of 89% and 86% respectively. The employment rate for female graduates was slightly lower because they were more likely to stay out of the labour force in order to look after the family or home. In fact while only 1% of male graduates stated this, 7% of female graduates did.

Looking now at the type of job male and female graduates were doing in 2013. The percentage in high and low skill posts were fairly similar. However, focusing on middle skill jobs, female graduates were more likely to work in lower middle and male graduates were more likely to work in upper middle.
This may be related to part – time work. Female graduates were more likely to work part time and people in lower middle skill jobs were more likely to work part-time.

Finally looking at the differences in earnings for male and female graduates, on average a male graduate earned £3 more an hour than a female graduate. This may be linked to female graduates being more likely to work in a lower middle skilled role and more likely to work part-time.
However, subject of degree may also be linked.
Focusing on graduates with undergraduate degrees, the graduates in four out of the top five subjects associated with high annual pay were more likely to be male.


That was graduates in the UK labour market in 2013.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.