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1 graduate careers three years after graduation D EE INSTITUTE FOR EMPLOYMENT RESEARCH

2 The Higher Education Careers Services Unit (CSU) was founded in 972 and is a registered charity jointly owned by the CVCP (Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals) and CSCFC (The committee of Vice Chancellors of the Scottish Centrally Funded Colleges) and SCOP (Standing Conference of Principals.) Working in partnership with careers services, CSU is responsible for developing and providing a comprehensive range of expert publications and services (The Prospects Series). The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) represents the careers services and over 000 staff in over 30 institutions of Higher Education throughout the UK and Eire. It promotes collaboration in producing information on graduate careers, training & professional development, quality standards, and innovation. It has links with many government departments and agencies involved in HE, industry and the professions, including a close partnership with CSU. The Institute for Employment Research was established by the University of Warwick in 98. It aims to promote advanced study and research in areas such as the relationship between the labour market and the rest of the economy, labour market behaviour and policy and influences on them. It has published several studies on the demand for the highly qualified. This work was produced under contract with the Department for Education and Employment. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department for Education and Employment or any other Government Department. Additional funding for this project was also received from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council 999 Higher Education Careers Services Unit, Careers Services Trust, Institute for Employment Research All Rights Reserved. Small extracts from this document may be photocopied for educational purposes only, but should be acknowledged DfEE-CSU-AGCAS-IER Moving On Graduate Careers 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 the prior permission of DfEE-CSU-AGCAS-IER. Any queries regarding research methodology should be addressed to: Professor Peter Elias at IER University of Warwick Coventry CV4 7AL Further copies of the report are available from: CSU Ltd Prospects House Booth Street East Manchester M3 9EP Tel: Fax: Copies of the full report (ISBN ) are also available from CSU Price: Within EC 40 including postage Outside EC 0 including postage All orders must be prepaid in sterling Photographs on the cover and inside this publication courtesy of Loughborough University, Photodisc and Eh6 design (taken on location at Heriot-Watt University). Published by: CSU Limited Printed by: APS (Allied Publicity Services) Limited Acknowledgements The production of this detailed and wide-ranging study on a relatively short timescale would not have been possible without the co-operation and assistance we have received from a large number of individuals and institutions. We are deeply indebted to staff at the 33 HE institutions that agreed to participate in the enquiry, often involving a considerable amount of administrative work to generate address lists and in mailing questionnaires. Questionnaire production, mailbase maintenance and data capture was undertaken by Xerox Business Systems. Linda Wilson at the IER performed additional mailbase maintenance and further data processing. Lynne Conaghan at IER handled the production of various drafts of this report. Throughout the duration of this project a Task Group, a small group of individuals drawn from our Advisory Group, has assisted us. Particular thanks are due to Janet Gawn of the DfEE, Pat Raderecht of the CSU and Kate Dodd of AGCAS. Dan Johnson and Steve Haddican at the CSU have assisted us greatly in the final stages of preparation of this report for publication. Above all, our thanks to more than,000 leavers from higher education institutions who took the time to provide us with details of their career paths since graduation.

3 contents introduction 2 setting the scene: defining and characterising the career paths of higher education leavers 3 graduate employability and performance indicators: first destinations and beyond unemployment in the early careers of leavers from higher education 7 getting ahead? additional qualifications, training and work experience 9 moving on and matching up: the fit between undergraduate studies and graduate jobs 0 guidance and career planning 2 conclusions 3 references 3 tables percentage of respondents unemployed six months or more during the three and half years since graduation participation in further study since 99, by degree subject main activity at time of survey, by gender sources of careers information and guidance used since leaving higher education (%) figures the evolution of employment and type of occupation from July 99 to December 998 the impact of degree characteristics on earnings three and a half years after graduation average value of quality of employment index, by cumulative duration of unemployment the impact of personal characteristics on earnings three and a half years after graduation the experience of unemployment among HE leavers (July December 998) average earnings of graduates, by main subject area and gender

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5 2 introduction The graduate labour market has changed radically in the last two decades. Increasing proportions of young people now extend their education well beyond the compulsory requirement. Also, older people who missed out on higher education at the school leaving age, have been returning as adults seeking to develop their potential and their career options more fully. In a period where the financial costs to students of acquiring a higher education are rising, it is important to understand how the benefits from such an 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 services and the more recent emphasis on knowledge-based services (often used to refer to IT-orientated employment) have favoured the highly-qualified. But these changes introduce a degree of uncertainty into the labour market. As new areas of work emerge, new graduates have to carve-out career routes rather than follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. Not only are graduates having to seek out new areas of work, they also have to compete with a much larger group of equally well qualified contenders. Career guidance has a clear role to play in helping new graduates release their potential and in easing their transition from higher education to gainful employment. The Higher Education Careers Services Unit (CSU) has recognised the need to keep up-to-date information on the graduate labour market and in the last few years has invested in a number of highly influential surveys. Most recently, surveys have traced the experience of a cohort of graduates from their expectations in their final year (Great Expectations? 996) to their actual experience 8 months after graduation (Working Out? 999). Higher education represents a considerable amount of government investment even if, in more recent years, at least part of the cost of higher education has been transferred to students and their families. The merging of the Departments for Education and Employment (to create the DfEE) has created greater synergy between education programmes and skill needs in the labour market. Perhaps the most pertinent indication of this is the pending publication of performance indicators for higher education institutions, due in early 2000, which will judge HEIs in terms of the employability of their alumni. It therefore seems appropriate that these two bodies (DfEE and CSU) should come together to finance a major study of the early career paths of a cohort of graduates and Diplomates who qualified in 99. studying the career paths of 99 graduates/diplomates The experience of a sample of graduates and Diplomates who qualified in 99 in terms of their early career paths, reflections on the adequacy of careers guidance, their subject choice and the usefulness or otherwise of further periods of study can help to inform future generations of graduates, careers advisers and policy makers alike. In 998, the Department for Education and Employment, together with its Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland counterparts, agreed with the CSU and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services to launch a detailed and comprehensive study of the career paths of leavers from higher education institutions who graduated in 99. The intentions of this study were multiple. It would be the first major study of leavers who had participated in higher education following the creation of the new universities in 992. It would track the progress of graduates over a three and a half year period, from July 99 to December 998, examining in particular their progression within the labour market in terms of the jobs they acquire and the utilisation of their newly-gained skills and knowledge. It would examine the role of careers guidance and advice as they planned to enter the labour market and subsequently. Above all else, it would attempt to characterise the new graduate labour market - examining the ways in which graduates position themselves and progress within the UK labour market in the latter part of 990s. An important issue to be addressed in this study relates to the definition and measurement of graduate employability. HE institutions face up to a new environment in which their relative performance comes under increasing scrutiny. Important among a range of performance indicators which will assist in the planning and delivery of higher education outputs are those which relate to and 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 of domestically domiciled leavers from higher education institutions in 99. Certain HE institutions are excluded from this study, notably the medical schools, art and design colleges and the Open University. From a sample of the remaining institutions, over ten thousand first degree graduates short report

6 and Diplomates were contacted three and a half years after graduation and gave details of their education, career paths and their current situation. Additionally, a small number of respondents were contacted and interviewed by telephone or agreed to participate in detailed discussions which explored in depth some of the issues raised in the postal enquiry. Further details of the sampling methodology, survey weighting procedures and sample representativeness are contained in the appendix to the full report. The results are broadly representative of all persons who gained a higher education degree or diploma in 99. the structure of this report 3 setting the scene: defining and characterising the career paths of higher education leavers The following pages of this report show key findings and accompanying figures and tables from analyses of this new study of the career paths of graduates and Diplomates from higher education institutions who qualified in 99. The areas covered, reflect the substantive chapters of the full report 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 market but differing in terms of their own subject discipline have contributed to an assessment of the early career paths of 99 graduates and Diplomates. The chapters reflect both their own areas of interest and expertise and their different approaches to the subject area. One of the major tasks faced in conducting this study relates to the need to characterise, compare and analyse the career paths of a sample of leavers from higher education institutions who qualified in 99. To facilitate this, a set of indicators were established, derived from their work histories and labour market status at the time of the survey. These indicators have been developed using information on employment status, occupation and some subjective indicators of the type of job in which the leavers found employment. This chapter, by Peter Elias and Abigail McKnight, essentially sets the scene for the chapters that follow. It describes in detail how five different measures that were utilised for the purpose of characterising career paths and outcomes three and a half years after leaving higher education were defined. information sources The 99 Survey of the Career Paths of Graduates and Diplomates was designed so that it had, as its core, 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 answered by respondents who were employed at the time of the survey, requesting further details of their current job. characterising career paths Unemployment (and possibly non-employment) yields a rather crude and essentially negative indicator of a career path. Two other indicators have been developed, based upon the job in which the respondent is working in any particular month. These are defined as an objective measure of a graduate job and a subjective measure of a graduate job. In the former case, the term objective is used because the definition of the graduate job is based upon the classification of occupations in terms of the typical qualification level of employees in these jobs. By this method, the three categories defined above were related to average educational levels in the following way: traditional graduate occupations employees in occupations classified to this group typically have years of additional education after the age of compulsory schooling and a minimum of 4 years. Although we use the term graduate, both classification schemes recognise that not all of our samples are graduates and threfore will not be expected to enter high level traditional graduate jobs. graduate track occupations non-graduate occupations employees in occupations classified to this group typically have 3 years of additional education and a minimum of 2. years employees in occupations classified to this group typically had. years of additional education

7 4 the evolution of employment and type of occupation from July 99 to December % employment % trad grad 80 % grad track % non-grad 60 per cent jul 996 jan 996 jul 997 jan 997 jul This three-fold classification can help to characterise the employment profiles of HE leavers into different types of jobs and illustrates career progression. As the figure above shows, around onequarter of HE leavers are employed in non-graduate occupations immediately after completing their course in 99 (nearly 40 per cent of those in employment), but this share falls fairly rapidly over the first year to 7 per cent. By December 998 only 0 per cent of all leavers are in a non-graduate occupation. Conversely, the subjective graduate job relies upon the respondent s view of their job and the extent to which they state it requires or makes use of their qualifications, skills and knowledge learnt. 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 using subject/discipline knowledge, or skills learnt, or both. Graduate entry means that their academic qualifications were required. A non-graduate job is a job for which respondents stated that their academic qualifications were not required. 998 jan 998 jul 998 dec characterising labour market outcomes Labour market outcomes are measured in two ways. First, earnings are used as an indicator of economic 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 a half years after graduation. For example, some career paths are characterised by relatively low earnings in the early years (solicitors, doctors). Also, some graduates may place significantly more value on other aspects of their jobs than simply how much they earn. For this reason an index of job opportunities is developed - a count of how many, within a specified range, positive job opportunities their job affords them.

8 key findings graduate employability and performance indicators: first destinations and beyond Unemployment among higher education leavers is fairly high immediately upon completion of their 99 studies, but falls very rapidly over the next few months. Each summer in the following three years, the proportion of respondents who are unemployed rises slightly, as those who had entered further full-time study upon completion of their 99 qualification attempt to enter the labour market. Non-employment (ie not being employed, in full-time study or unemployed) falls over the first summer after the cohort leaves higher education and then remains at a low and fairly constant level throughout 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, with significantly 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 degree knowledge/skills over the 42 month period covered by the study. This arises for two reasons. First, as employment among the cohort of 99 leavers expands (especially with the entry into employment of those who undertook further study), so the proportion in graduate jobs increases. Secondly, a significant number of respondents commence work after their 99 qualifications in a non-graduate occupation, then progressively improve the match between their skills, knowledge and the extent to which these are utilised in their jobs. The share of leavers in traditional graduate occupations and graduate track occupations increases as the share of the cohort in employment increases. Overall the share of employment in traditionalgraduate occupations increases from around 40 per cent in July 99 to over 60 per cent in December 998. This chapter, by Abigail McKnight, is written from an economic perspective looking at ways in which graduate success in the labour market, and its determinants, can be quantified. Particular emphasis is placed on the importance of early labour market outcomes in predicting future labour market difficulties. This piece complements other work she has done in this area with a strong emphasis on performance indicators for higher education institutions based on measures of graduate employability. The main results that emerge from this chapter are that while unemployment is frequently used to assess the employability of graduates, there are many other important dimensions to graduate employability. A number of measures, ranging from subjective to objective assessments of the quality of jobs, are examined. However, it is shown that the experience of unemployment in the first 8 months is indicative of labour market difficulties. In terms of performance indicators a survey conducted somewhere around 2 and 8 months after graduation would provide measures of unemployment indicative of longer term labour market difficulties and measures of job quality for those who are in work. key findings Unemployment at 6, 2 or 8 months is indicative of longer term difficulties in the labour market. On average, graduates unemployed 6 months after graduation spend 30 per cent (3 months) of the first three and a half years unemployed, compared with less than one month for graduates employed 6 months after graduation. Graduates unemployed at 6 months are also more likely to be employed 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 are very unstable because unemployment rates and their dispersion fall rapidly over time. Unemployment rates by institution at 6, 2 or 8 months are highly correlated with average unemployment 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 are more stable over time than ranks based on unemployment rates. 2

9 6 6 7 Employment in a non-graduate occupation is associated with particular degree subjects, gender, low entry qualifications and degree class. Even after controlling for these factors, the probability of employment in a non-graduate occupation is higher for graduates from some institutions than others. Earnings three and a half years after graduation are related to gender, age, prior qualifications, degree class and subject (see figures below). Graduates who are unemployed six months after graduation typically earn 6 per cent less than graduates who were not, other things being equal. After controlling for students personal characteristics and degree subject an institutional effect is identified. Three and a half years after graduation only 2 per cent of economically active graduates are unemployed and less than 0 per cent of graduates are in a non-graduate occupation. Most graduates move into work with relative ease and most graduates find work in traditional graduate or graduate track occupations. the impact of personal characteristics on earnings three and a half years after graduation 30 age prior qualifications social class background per cent difference in the relative earnings female male < 2 years years years years 0+ years long standing illness no long standing illness 24+ A level points 6-23 A level points < 6 A level points highers foundation course vocational quals degree or higher other quals professional managerial and technical skilled non-manual skilled manual partly skilled unskilled armed forces no parent in work the impact of degree characteristics on earnings three and a half years after graduation 30 2 discipline class of degree 20 per cent change in relative earnings arts humanities languages law social sciences mathematics & computing natural sciences medicine & related engineering business studies education other vocational interdisciplinary first upper second lower second third ungraded honours pass medical pass grade unknown

10 unemployment in the early careers of leavers from higher education This chapter, by Peter Elias, explores the extent and consequences of unemployment in the early careers of new graduates and Diplomates. The chapter presents a graphical view of the varying experiences of unemployment and their association with labour market outcomes three and a half years after graduation. The relationship between individuals characteristics (age, ethnicity, parental social class, gender), course studied and institutional characteristics, and their subsequent experience of unemployment, is investigated. A number of interesting findings emerge from this analysis of unemployment among qualified leavers from higher education institutions. These are: key findings A significant proportion of highly-qualified leavers experience a short spell of unemployment after qualifying, but most of these experiences are transitory (see figure below). Despite its predominantly transitory nature, it took about two years after graduation for unemployment among 99 higher education leavers to stabilise at its minimum level of about 2 to 3 per cent. Certain personal characteristics correlate with a worse than average experience of unemployment after graduating (see table overleaf). These are: being male; over 0 years of age; of non-white ethnic origins; having parents who were not in employment when the graduate was 4 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 (eg interdisciplinary studies). the class of degree obtained associates with unemployment. Those who obtained a lower second or a third were more than twice as likely to be unemployed in the three and a half years after graduation than those who obtained a first. The cumulative duration of unemployment experienced after graduation shows a marked association with both earnings and an index of the quality of the job held three and a half years after graduation. Those who were unemployed for more than six months have lower earnings and record fewer positive attributes about their current job (as shown in figure overleaf). 7 the experience of unemployment among HE leavers (July 99 December 998) 2 20 male female per cent unemployed jul 996 jan 996 jul 997 jan 997 jul 998 jan 998 jul 998 dec

11 8 percentage of respondents unemployed six months or more during the three and a half years since qualifying % unemployed more than six months % unemployed more than six months type of institution attended old university (pre 960) s univ./cats university 7.2 HE college (inc. teacher Training) 8.3 type of course completed in 99 Dip HE.8 HND 6.9 HNC 2.3 other diploma (below degree).7 undergraduate degree 7.9 subject area studied arts.7 humanities 0.3 languages 7. law 6.8 social sciences 8.4 maths and computing 8.4 natural sciences 0.2 medicine and related 3.4 engineering 4.7 business studies 6.0 education 3.4 other vocational 6.8 interdisciplinary.6 age in 998/99 2 or under and over.6 gender male 9.4 female.8 class of degree obtained in 99 first 4.4 upper second 7.0 lower second 9.0 third.0 unclassified honours 0.3 ordinary or pass degree 9.6 diploma 3.3 social class of parents professional 6.7 managerial and technical 7.0 skilled non-manual 6.2 skill manual 9. partly skilled 7.8 unskilled 0.6 armed forces 4.8 no parent in work 7.9 not known/not stated 8.4 ethnic origin indian 9.8 pakistani 8.0 bangladeshi 9.8 chinese.0 asian (other) 7. black caribbean.2 black african 2.9 black other - white 7.4 other average value of quality of employment index, by cumulative duration of unemployment average value of index all employed at time of survey experienced -3 months unemployment experienced 4-6 months unemployment experienced 7-2 months unemployment experienced more than one year of unemployment

12 getting ahead: additional qualifications, training, and work experience key findings Participation in further study since 99, by degree subject (%) degree subject in further study law 78.3 natural sciences 63. languages 63. social sciences 63.3 humanities 63.2 arts 62.6 interdisciplinary 3.7 medicine and related 2.3 business studies.4 other vocational 46. engineering 43.6 maths and computing 43. education 30.8 total (weighted)= A number of key findings related to participation in further study and attitudes to getting ahead in the graduate labour market have emerged from analyses of the postal survey and the qualitative interviews. These are: Participation in further full-time study reached a peak of 7 per cent in October 99, reflecting that almost a fifth of respondents continued in postgraduate level education after completing their initial qualification. 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 parttime or short courses. Evidence from the qualitative interviews suggests that many such courses were accessed directly through employment. Those most likely to participate in further study were under 2 years and had completed a qualification in a non-vocational subject in 99. The most popular reasons for undertaking further study were expressly career-related, particularly among those undertaking Master s courses. The fact that more non-vocational graduates undertake further study would suggest that it is this group who feel the greatest need to bolster their employability by accruing additional qualifications. Interviews with respondents such as Emma, below, would suggest that the majority of graduates and Diplomates are highly conscious of the need to continue collecting skills during their working lives. The first degree was perceived very much as a way in to employment opportunities and a foundation 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-vocational degrees. Respondents were invited to reflect upon their overall experiences in making the transition from higher education. Several messages emerged from analysis of their responses. For students, acquiring work experience prior to leaving higher education is a key factor in facilitating the transition into employment. For careers services, helping students to reflect on the skills acquired from such experience is crucial. Given the number of respondents embarking upon further study to enhance their job prospects, more extensive labour market information on postgraduate course outcomes would also appear to be crucial. For higher education institutions in general, the key message is to improve links with employers so as to facilitate opportunities for work placements among students particularly those in non-vocational subjects. For employers, offering continual skills development and training opportunities for their graduate employees would appear to be a key factor in retaining them. Finally, for graduates themselves, work history evidence supplemented by the qualitative interviews reveals the need for many to be persistent in seeking graduate-level employment. 9 emma Emma, Sociology and Psychology, higher education college: I don t really know where I thought I d be by this time; I had no idea about my career, so I had no expectations. I didn t really feel equipped to start work when I graduated. It was silly things like answering the phone properly, composing a letter to a client; I d never had to do those things, and I didn t know how. Work experience might have helped. My degree probably wasn t such a good investment. Not much use in me getting a job. I think it is probably too broad and I ll need an MA or Diploma to actually get a job that makes more use of my skills. I d like to move into counselling and have started evening classes in basic counselling skills, but I d probably have to do the Diploma on a part-time basis as it is quite expensive and then I could keep earning. It ll probably take around seven years to get.

13 0 moving on and matching up the leavers from higher education In this chapter, by Kate Purcell, respondents career trajectories are examined in terms of their own reporting of the extent to which their degree was required and used in the jobs they had. Then, for those in employment at the time of the survey, current job is examined, exploring occupation, industry sector, contractual status and size of organisation. In addition, respondents perceptions of the extent to which their degree was important in enabling them to obtain this job is examined. Throughout the analysis, differences between women and men are monitored, and the question of the extent to which changing patterns of graduate employment are contributing to a reinforcement or dilution of occupational gender segmentation is addressed. main activity at time of survey, by gender activity at time of survey male female total % % % full-time, career-related full-time, other part-time self-employed other employment (details unclear) unpaid/voluntary work full-time study unemployed out of the labour force total (weighted) = 00% average earnings of graduates, by main subject area and gender arts humanities females males languages law social sciences maths & computing natural sciences medicine & related engineering business studies education other vocational interdisciplinary average gross annual earnings ( )

14 key findings Over 6 per cent of 99 graduates in employment were in jobs which required their degrees by the end of three and a half years (see table on previous page) but 82 per cent of employed graduates reported that they were using knowledge and skills developed during their undergraduate courses in their current jobs. Those from new universities were less likely to be in jobs which required their degrees, but more likely to be in non-graduate jobs where they believed that their graduate skills and knowledge were used. Graduates with vocational degrees tended to enter the graduate labour market directly and were more likely to be in jobs where their qualifications had been required than those who had studied more academic courses. Women were more likely to be in jobs where their qualifications had been required, but had lower annual 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 than graduates with more general degrees. Class of degree obtained was strongly correlated with whether or not a graduate was employed in a job where their qualifications had been - but there had been a convergence among those with different levels of award over the three and a half year period. The boundaries between graduate and non-graduate employment appeared fuzzy to many of the graduates. Perception that current job was related to their longer term career aspirations was not synonymous with being in a graduate-entry job; nearly half of those who regarded their current job as career-related had not required a degree on entry, whereas around a quarter of those who did not regard their job as career-related were in jobs which required their degree. Vocational subject graduates - education, engineering and medicine & related - were most likely to be in a job requiring their degree, whereas those in humanities, arts and natural sciences were least likely to be in such a job. Most graduates were in professional occupations, although substantial minorities were also found in management and administration occupations or associate professional jobs: business and languages graduates in management and administration, education, medicine & related and law in professional occupations, medicine & related and maths & computing in associate professional occupations. There appears to be a slow convergence of graduate career paths, as time elapses and careers are established. I think it s a good investment...i m younger than my brother and sister, who didn t go to university, and I m earning more than them already. You need to be qualified at degree level now if you want to get anywhere. A social science graduate from an old university

15 2 guidance and career planning This chapter, by Jane Pitcher, explores the degree to which careers guidance and information was sought by respondents during their time in higher education and subsequently. It examines perceptions of the information for careers guidance of different approaches to career planning. The chapter draws significantly on the qualitative interviews and focus groups with graduates as well as survey data relating to careers guidance and sources of information. key findings The interviews brought out the fact that, for some, such as Colin (below), subject choice influenced use of careers advice and guidance. Some graduates who had taken more vocational subjects had a relatively clear idea of potential options, whereas for less vocational subjects, future directions were less obvious. Many graduates recognised in retrospect that they themselves could have made more effective and extensive use of the careers service. For many, such as Susan (below), the tension between getting a good degree and the need to consider a future career was apparent. Pressures of final year examinations in particular were perceived as a barrier to taking the time to seek out information. Although it was recognised that students themselves need to take a more active role in their career development, 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 those graduates who are less clear about their options on leaving higher education but may be more flexible in taking employment to give them the experience or opportunities required to enter the graduate labour market. sources of careers information and guidance used since leaving higher education (%) information advice and information on careers guidance on vacancies job centre/local careers service recruitment agencies careers consultants careers publications internet managers or colleagues at work newspapers or journals total = Note: multiple response question - totals do not add up to 00% susan Susan, an English literature graduate from an old university: You have to spend so much time on applications that you re torn between the two... do I spend time trying to get a job or doing my degree? It s difficult to combine them both. It s a full time job trying to work out what you want to be and your mind is still bound up in university life. colin Colin, a computing and information systems graduate from an old university (pragmatist and hedonist):...the main reason I did my course was for career reasons - got a good chance of getting a reasonable job and stay there for a while... be quite highly paid. Second reason - I enjoyed it anyway, cause I ve got a scientific mind.

16 3five conclusions emerge Most of the unemployment experienced by graduates straight after graduation is short term. Three and a half years after graduation only two per cent of economically active HE leavers are unemployed seeking work. However, unemployment in the first 8 months is indicative of labour market difficulties. Graduates unemployed six months after graduation typically spent more than one year unemployed over the three and a half years covered by the survey and this early experience of unemployment is associated with a greater probability of employment in a non-graduate occupation in the future and lower average earnings. Judging institutions on the experience of unemployment among their alumni more than 8 months after graduation will give a poor indication of leavers employability because unemployment rates are low and the dispersion across institutions is narrow. The result is that very small differences in unemployment will be used to separate institutions and the resulting rankings will be very unstable through time. More informative measures of graduate employability are based on the quality of the jobs (both objective and subjective) that graduates gain. Many graduates and Diplomates find it necessary to undertake further periods of study to enhance their employability. It is not surprising to find that those who choose a non-vocational subject find the greatest need to collect further skills before entering the labour market. While it is important to maintain the academic content of these non-vocational courses, it may be possible to supplement them with vocational (work-orientated) options. The issue of graduate underemployment has been examined from two perspectives - via an objective 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 from their degree course). Both perspectives demonstrate that the process of integration into the labour market is slow yet steady. About 0- 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, subject studied, institution attended and personal characteristics), the fact that it continues to diminish is strong evidence that graduate underemployment, while it may be a transitional problem for many graduates, 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 required to find a job. While the onus is on graduates to seek careers advice, early intervention on the part of the careers service, particularly focused on students following non-vocational courses, could be extremely beneficial. 3 references Belfield, C., A. Bullock, A. Chevalier, A. Fielding, W. Siebert and H. Thomas (997). Mapping the Careers of Highly Qualified Workers. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Incomes Data Services (997). Pay and Progression for Graduates. London: IDS. Institute for Employment Studies (996). Graduate Salaries and Vacancies 996. Cambridge: Association of Graduate Recruiters. Mason, G. (99). The New Graduate Supply Shock: Recruitment and Utilisation of Graduates in British Industry. London: NIESR. Purcell, K., Pitcher, J., and Simm, C. (999). Working Out? Graduates Early Experiences of the Labour Market. Manchester. CSU Purcell, K., Pitcher, J., 996, Great Expectations: the New Diversity of Graduate Skills and Aspirations. Manchester. CSU

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