Quarter of graduates can’t find work in increasingly tough jobs market
MORE than a quarter of graduates leaving Scottish universities are failing to find full-time work in an increasingly difficult jobs market, new figures show.
Official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that of the 19,000 students who left Scottish universities last summer with their first degree, only 72 per cent were in employment or a combination of work and further study six months after completing their course.
According to the HESA figures, which are collected from all of Scotland’s universities, 13,900 of the 19,390 students who graduated in 2010-11 with their first degree were either in work or a combination of work and further study six months after finishing their course.
While about a third of those were working in professional jobs, 27 per cent found employment in administrative, secretarial, customer service or “elementary” occupations.
Labour’s youth employment spokeswoman Kezia Dugdale said: “Many Scots graduates went to the university to get an education, to enhance their skills and improve their employability. It’s therefore heart-breaking to see so many graduates without work and mountains of debt.
“The Scottish Government needs a plan to both address graduate unemployment and the needs of those out of work for 12 months or more.”
Minister for youth employment Angela Constance said: “Scotland has the highest rate of graduate employment in the UK. However, we recognise that the current economic climate is challenging for graduates to get into the job market.
“This is why, as part of our wider work to tackle youth unemployment, we are committed to ensuring that each and every graduate has the support they need to secure long-term sustainable employment.
“We are working closely with the public, private and third [voluntary] sectors to provide a comprehensive package of services. These include providing advice and information on vacancies, funding employer incentives to take on graduates, either as permanent employees or interns, and supporting paid work placements to help young people gain valuable experience.”
The figures came as a report from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) warned many graduates are now “entrenched” in a culture of unemployment or low wages, with some left regretting their decision to go to university.
The report, entitled Degrees of Insecurity, surveyed nearly 1,000 recent graduates and found more than half had been unemployed for a period after completing their course. It also noted that many were “underemployed” in low-paid or short-term positions which did not require a degree.
CAS chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “Our survey reveals that many graduates feel deeply frustrated that they are unable to make the progress in their lives they were expecting to make after graduation.
“Having been told a degree was the key to a successful and prosperous life, and having worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get one, many graduates have become entrenched instead in a culture of unemployment or low wages and short-term contracts. It’s heart-rending to read so many accounts of people, once full of hope for the future, who feel their lives are on hold. Some are even questioning whether it was worth the time, money and effort.”
Universities Scotland criticised CAS’s research, calling it “statistically invalid”.
Director Alastair Sim said: “The survey, and all media coverage to promote it, was deliberately and unashamedly targeted at graduates who have struggled to find work. Therefore, it is completely unrepresentative of the graduate population as a whole.”
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