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Wednesday 29th May 2024, 2:00 PM (BST)

Biggest drop in UK graduate unemployment for 15 years

Biggest drop in UK graduate unemployment for 15 years

Graduate career prospects are improving further, after figures showed graduate unemployment is falling even further.

Graduates know they have an advantage in the labour market, but since the financial crisis employment prospects have taken something of a knock. This year has seen plenty of improvement, however, and new data shows that unemployment among UK graduates is falling at a record pace.


Figures from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hescu) show that unemployment among university graduates has posted the biggest decline in 15 years.

Some 7.3 per cent were out of work in January this year – the lowest percentage since 2008 and down from 8.5 per cent in the previous year.

That was very slightly higher than unemployment in the UK as a whole, which the Office for National Statistics put at 7.2 per cent during the winter months. But it still represents a very positive step. Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at Hescu, said it was a “fascinating example of how quickly the market can change.”


Some 70 per cent of the 256,350 UK graduates surveyed were working, while 5.6 per cent were working and studying at the same time. Another 12.6 per cent had continued study or training.

Among those employed full-time in the UK, the average salary was anywhere between £18,615 and £22,785, depending on their occupation.

Unemployment tends to be lower among those who studied for their degrees part-time, which could be because they worked throughout their courses. In fact, just 4.8 per cent of part-time students were in work six months after graduating, down from 5.8 per cent over the same period.

Hescu says that the sectors in which graduate employment rose most dramatically were the professional and managerial areas – news which does coincide with news that many major graduate employers have been increasing their intake of university leavers. And encouragingly, it appears that underemployment is also on the decline, since the proportion working as retail, catering, waiting and bar staff fell by 0.7 percentage points to 13 per cent. If these trends continue, the outlook for UK graduates is set to keep getting brighter.

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