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Recent graduates now more likely to work in lower skilled jobs

Released: 06 March 2012 Download PDF

The percentage of recent graduates (those who have completed a degree or higher education qualification within the last six years) working in lower skilled jobs has risen from 26.7 per cent in 2001 to 35.9 per cent at the end of 2011, according to a new report released today by ONS.

Graduates typically have higher employment rates than non-graduates. At the end of 2011, the employment rate for all graduates was 86.0 per cent, compared with 72.3 per cent for non-graduates. Non-graduates are also more likely to be inactive, currently standing at 20.9 per cent compared with 10.1 per cent for all graduates. This is mainly because non-graduates are of an older demographic and therefore more likely to be looking after their family or long-term sick.

During the recent recession, the employment rate for those who graduated in the last six years fell from 90.2 per cent to 86.5 per cent. The employment rate for all graduates fell from 88.5 per cent to 87.2 per cent.

The unemployment rate for new graduates (those who graduated in the last 2 years) stood at 18.9 per cent at the end of 2011, much higher than the rates for those who graduated 2 to 4 years ago (6.7 per cent) and 4 to 6 years ago (4.4 per cent). The unemployment rate for everyone in the UK stood at 8.4 per cent.

The average hourly earnings for graduates was £15.18 in 2011, compared with £8.92 for non-graduates. Those with a degree in medicine or dentistry had the highest median earnings at £21.29. Graduates with an arts degree had the lowest median hourly earnings at £12.06. However, graduates regardless of subject studied had higher average earnings than non-graduates.

London had the highest percentage of graduates in 2011 at 49 per cent. Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and the North East had the lowest at around 28 per cent.

The amount of highly skilled jobs available to graduates differs widely across the country. 34 per cent of jobs in London were in the highest skilled group. Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East had the lowest percentage of high skill jobs at 23 per cent.

A short video using graphical animations and commentary explaining this story is available on the ONS Youtube channel at

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