NEARLY a third of graduates entering employment are finding work in non-professional jobs in the retail and service sectors, but earn more on average than their counterparts across the UK, according to newly published figures.
• Scottish graduates earn more than counterparts from the rest of the UK, new figures show
• 90 per cent of Scottish graduates move on to jobs or further studies within six months, compared to 86 per cent from across the UK
Details released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) show that 63 per cent of those completing their first degree at a Scottish university in 2011-12 found work.
But of those, more than 30 per cent took positions deemed “non-professional” in administration, sales, caring or “elementary” occupations.
Of those completing their first degree, 17 per cent went on to further study, while 6 per cent combined work with further study and 7 per cent of graduates were unemployed.
The average salary for Scottish university leavers was £21,000, compared to £20,000 for those leaving English universities, £19,000 for qualifiers from Welsh universities and £20,000 for qualifiers from Northern Irish universities.
Education secretary Mike Russell said: “These figures demonstrate the advantages of a Scottish degree. While I strongly welcome these figures, we recognise the continuing challenges of securing employment and avoiding underemployment.
“That’s why we are continually engaging with the higher
education sector and employers to improve employment opportunities. For example, we fully support Universities Scotland working closely with small and medium-sized businesses to open up more paid work opportunities for graduates.”
But Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland, said: “Graduate unemployment of any level represents a huge waste of talent, and a huge loss for Scotland. However, university graduates are still in a better position to find one of the few jobs available than those who never had the opportunity to make it to university. That’s why it’s so important that universities do all they can to make access to higher education fairer.
“Improving graduate unemployment is not something that can be solved in isolation. Investment in our colleges and universities, coupled with job creation, is a surefire way to grow the economy. That is why businesses, universities and government must work together to improve outcomes for graduates and increase youth employment.”
Alastair Sim, director of umbrella organisation Universities Scotland, said: “These figures show yet again that Scotland’s graduates are the best in the UK. Not only do they outperform the UK overall for rate of positive destinations, have the lowest unemployment rate and can command higher starting salaries, but in terms of professional employment, graduates from Scottish universities rate higher than the rest.”