Tough Job Market Continues to Haunt UK Graduates

Although nearly two-thirds of university graduates around Britain were employed six months after graduating, a growing number of them were only able to obtain part-time obs. In all, 22% of those who obtained a degree during the 2010-11 academic year were unable to obtain full-time employment as the country continues to struggle with the worst job market in decades.

Overall, nearly 10% of graduates failed to find any kind of employment at all according to the data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency last week. The rate of employment of university graduates was down slightly from the previous year.

The biggest difference was in the numbers of graduates who were able to obtain part-time versus full-time employment. More than 35,000 students had to settle for less than full-time work — an increase of more than a full percentage point since 2009-10.

The number of graduates classed as self-employed after university also rose to 5pc in 2010/11, up from 4.4pc the year before. However, industry experts have pointed out that not all those who set up their own businesses do so out of choice, with many doing “odd jobs” like cleaning or decorating to pay the bills.

There was also a small bump in the number of those pursuing volunteer or other unpaid projects. The percentage of students involved in that kind of work rose by .8% to 4% of the total.

Still, nearly half of those who graduated managed to land professional work in their chosen career fields such as accountancy firms or associateships in law offices. In contrast, those employed part-time were more likely to enter fields like customer service or sales. In all, of the 224,045 students who graduated last year, 158,440 had some kind of a job, of whom 18,355 were working part-time at the same time as they were enrolled in additional study.

Some 16pc of graduates went on to do more study, with 9pc unemployed six months after graduating, the figures showed.

Of those graduates who entered employment (including those both working and studying), 69pc were employed in full-time paid work, 22pc were employed part-time, 5pc were self-employed or freelance and 4pc were in voluntary or unpaid work.

A report released earlier this year showed that the tougher competition in the job market meant that many employers now required a first-class degree before even granting interviews.