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part-time students lead the way

Part-time students lead the way into graduate employment

Part-time students are more likely to find graduate-level jobs when they finish their degrees than their peers who are studying full-time, new research suggests.

The findings come from a comprehensive study of what graduates who finished their degrees in the 2011/12 academic year were doing six months later. The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey revealed that 72.3% of former part-time students were in employment and 5.8% of them were unemployed, while 67.3% of graduates who had studied full time were in work and they had an 8.8% unemployment rate.

Former part-time students were also more likely to be working in managerial or professional occupations, and 76.5% of those in employment had taken up a position of this kind, compared to 63.6% of those who had studied full-time. The research findings were are included in What do graduates do?, a report published today by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

The report comments, ‘Students studying a first degree part time are more likely to be already in employment and fit their studies around their career; this may account for their higher employment and lower unemployment.’ It goes on to stress how important it is for students to undertake quality work experience while at university, both to gain experience and skills and to make contacts who could be helpful when they are looking for jobs later on.

The average salary for first degree graduates from 2011/12 who were working full-time in the UK ranged between £18,345 and £22,535.

Postgraduates more likely to be in work than graduates

The study revealed that 8.5% of 2012 graduates were unemployed six months after graduation, including those who were due to start work. Meanwhile, 67.7% were in employment, 5.9% were working and studying and 13.0% were undertaking further study

According to the report, just 5% of postgraduates were unemployed. While 73.7% of graduates were either working or working and studying, this figure rose to 85.5% for postgraduates. Postgraduates were also more likely to be employed in a professional or managerial role, with 91% of those in work employed in this type of position, compared to 65% of all first degree graduates (this includes both those who studied part time and full time).

Among all those achieving postgraduate qualifications, graduates who obtained a PGCE or PGDE had the highest rate of employment, at 95.8%.

Charlie Ball, the deputy director of research at HECSU, commented, ‘Further study isn’t just a tactic to delay getting a job, but a destination that has positive employment outcomes with many choosing to study career-related subjects.’

However, he added a note of caution. ‘There are not obvious career paths for many postgraduate degrees, the landscape is complex and career trajectories vary hugely by subject, so it’s vital to seek good advice and talk to careers services before making a decision.’

How are graduate employment prospects changing?

According to What do graduates do?, research carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) predicts that by 2020 there will be significant growth in the number of managers and some technical professions. The CBI, a leading employers’ organisation, has suggested that there will be increased demand for graduates who are skilled in engineering, building management, IT and computing and science over the coming years.

However, it is likely that there will be only slight growth in the number of low-skilled workers and a decline in the number of administrative and secretarial occupations. This trend may reduce some opportunities for recent graduates, who could have used these jobs to gain the experience and contacts needed to progress on to higher skilled jobs.

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