ALMOST 15 per cent of university leavers are forced to take jobs as bar staff, sales assistants and check-out operators due to a lack of opportunities for graduates, according to a new report.
The study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hecsu) found Scotland one of the best places in the UK to find a well-paid graduate position. But throughout the UK, the biggest proportion of those leaving university and finding work was taking low-skilled jobs in retail and catering.
The report, What Graduates Do 2012, found 8 per cent of those graduating from UK
universities in 2011 had found work in Scotland six months after finishing their course, with an average starting salary of £20,509 – above the UK average of £19,935.
The study revealed that while there was work to be found, jobs were not spread out equally, with 21 per cent of graduates working in London. The report noted that jobs in Scotland were largely concentrated in the three largest cities. Aberdeen offers opportunities for science graduates, while Glasgow and Edinburgh are a good hunting ground for those looking to work in the arts.
However, the report also showed that 14.7 per cent of those graduating in 2011 had found low-skilled work as waiting staff and sales assistants. The figure was even higher for those graduating with degrees in subjects including law, English,
history and media studies.
Charlie Ball, deputy research director at Hecsu said: “The figures show that jobs are not spread equally around the UK.
“But there is often a perception that ‘all the jobs are in London’ and this is clearly not true, nor is the claim that there aren’t any jobs for graduates in other parts of the UK.
“This is particularly untrue for Scotland, which still maintains a relatively strong and diverse graduate jobs market, albeit one quite concentrated in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Even in difficult times, graduates can and do get jobs in Scotland. Students need to prepare for a difficult jobs market, and need to be sensible about their ambitions.
“Not every industry has lots of opportunities in every part of the UK. But there are jobs for graduates out there, so don’t give up hope.”
According to the research, the employment rate for new graduates across the UK fell to 61.8 per cent from 62.2 per cent the previous year, but the report’s authors said career prospects were “better than feared”, despite the state of the economy.
Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students in Scotland, said: “Graduate unemployment of any level is a huge waste of talent, and it remains the case that graduates are facing an uncertain future, with too many working in non-graduate level jobs.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scotland’s universities lead the UK in graduate employment while also showing a decrease in unemployed graduates, and our starting salaries for graduates are the best in the UK.
“This latest survey is further evidence that studying in Scotland gives students a firm footing in the jobs market.”