Chemmie Squier | Acting Fashion & Beauty Editor | Thursday, 1 October 2015

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Study Finds That One Fifth Of Graduates Aren't In 'Professional Roles'

The Debrief: Is the figure really that bad?

In an ideal world, the rewards of spending three years studying at university would be reaped as soon as you graduated, in the form of your dream job paying a decent salary so you could make a dent in the colossus student loan you’d acquired. The reality, as we know, is a little different for a lot of graduates. 

A new study released by the government’s Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE) has found that three-and-a-half years after leaving uni, more than 20% of graduates were in jobs that didn’t require a degree such as administration, sales and customer service roles. 

As well as this, it shows employment rates are increasing over time, rising from 64.1% six months after graduation to 77.8% after 40 months. So the dream of graduating and immediately starting your career are pretty far-fetched, and it’s all about time. 

On top of this, it highlights the gap in professional employment rates among disadvantaged students and those from ethnic minorities. Just 66% of black African graduates had professional employment after 40 months. 

It’s difficult to establish exactly how we should take these figures: while one fifth or roughly 20% seems like a large proportion, the flip-side is that that almost 80% (or four fifths) of graduate are in professional jobs. Which isn’t bad, right?

That said, with the huge rise in tuition fees, you’ve got to assume that the majority of graduates are hoping their future employment will result in jobs in well-paid, professional roles, in order to attempt to drip-pay-off loans (although, apparently, that won’t happen until we’re in our mid-fifties. Ace.) 

It could be, however, that the term ‘non-professional jobs’ is a red herring. For example, Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million Plus, a university think tank, said that it was ‘misleading and the definitions applied to these “non-professional” jobs are out of date. Many are early career posts which lead to professional portfolios.’

So really, it’s a difficult call to make. What’s clear is that we need more information and clarity on this. For example, how these employment rates compare to past years and how exactly ‘professional roles’ are defined. 

You might also be interested in:

One In 20 Students Do Sex Work To Pay Fees

Student Grants Are What Got Me Through Uni, So Please Don’t Cut Them

The Average Graduate Salary Drops By 11% In Just Five Years

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Tags: University