Grad job outcomes – be wary of this article

Last week The Guardian published a sobering and interesting article based on research into recent graduates’ job destinations. I am, however, concerned about a possible misinterpretation. They say (and I quote),

almost three-quarters (79%) [of graduates] expect to be in a graduate-level job within six months. But government figures show that only around half (53%) of those who graduated within the past five years are in such jobs.

Asides from some questionable sub-editing (I’ve made my own corrections) I think the way this is written could lead to an incorrect conclusion being drawn. That 47% of all grad in the past five years are still in non graduate-level jobs. I think an incorrect conclusion has been reached. I’d be stunned if that many graduates from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 in total are still in non graduate-level jobs five, four, three, two and one years on respectively. If you told me that 47% percentage of grads from the graduating year of 2013 were in non graduate-level jobs six months after graduation I’d be more inclined to agree.

Let me give you another source to double check figure like this. Look at the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE). It surveys graduates after six months of graduation. You can find this info here and here.

That’s not to belittle this issue. If you personally find yourself in this situation don’t accept it. Contact us here in the careers service sooner rather than later. We can help you achieve those graduate level job goals.

David Gilchrist


  1. David, you’re right to a point about that stat, which is a bit pernicious and not well understood.

    The 47% figure comes from this report: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lmac/graduates-in-the-labour-market/2013/rpt—graduates-in-the-uk-labour-market-2013.html, and specifically, Table 7.

    However the ONS definition of graduate in this data is this: “A graduate is defined as a person who is aged over 20, not enrolled on any educational course and who has a level of higher education above A level standard.”

    So anyone who has got any kind of HE qualification is included – including all those people with HND, Foundation Degrees and diplomas, many of which have legitimate career aims that don’t fall under the ‘high to medium’ level skills banner – all those health and beauty qualifications, anything to do with childcare or nursery nursing, any care assistants, any skilled trades or crafts-people – all of those, no matter whether you’re taking an HND in Plumbing and have become a plumber or an Early Years Foundation degree and become a nursery nurse, are counted as ‘not being in graduate employment’.

    The figure means very little as a measure of ‘success’ as a consequence, and is only barely relevant to the experience of first degree undergraduates.

    • Hi Charlie. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. It may not make for sensationalist headlines but I really do wish they’d run their copy by you before going to print! You are the most trustworthy source I know.

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