Tag Archives: Stats image

Moving through history

The development of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the way that it will use measure of graduate employment as a metric to judge institutions makes it all the more important that we get a real grip on how the graduate labour market works.

Graduate migration – see my most recent piece for the latest data – is a phenomenon that has subtle but profound effects on the way we can and should think about graduate employment.

To help understand the migration groups, here is a graphic developed by my excellent colleague Ellen Logan.

migration patterns

Let’s revisit this year’s migration patterns.

leavers etc
Employment groups for UK domiciled graduates from 2013/14

It is now a slightly alarming 11 years since I first conducted an analysis of this kind, so let’s have a look at the data from graduates from 2002/3.

2003 migration patterns
Employment groups for graduates from 2002/3

There are some differences – most notably, Loyals have increased for all regions except London (and, interestingly, Northern Ireland), Incomers are also up in most places, and Stayers are down, quite a bit, in some places (especially Scotland).

But the basic patterns have not moved in over a decade. We may find that, in the future, regions retain slightly fewer people who moved to the area to study, but more people will not move far to study or work but these patterns are what graduates do to find work, and we can assume that this will continue. .

This shows that graduates are not as mobile as a lot of thinking has them and that many can’t or won’t move far or to locations that they do not have a connection with for work. There are practical implications – most graduates who go to work in London, for example, are either originally from the region or studied there. And the same effect is intensified for every labour market outside London.

If you’re a recruiter, this ought to make you think about how you source your talent. If you recruit in Leeds, your new recruits will largely have lived or studied nearby. If you a London-based recruiter with a diversity agenda, even if you see yourself as attracting talent from all over the country, in reality many of those attracted to your offer will have existing ties to the capital, with  implications for your ability to recruit BME graduates and graduates from less affluent backgrounds.

If we are to have metrics based on salary, therefore, we have to understand that they are at least to some degree a measure of where an institution is sited and where they draw their graduates from.

Much has been made of the IFS finding that a group of institutions have graduates who earn under the national average for all workers; anyone familiar with the graduate labour market can probably have a good stab at the identities of those institutions, predominantly universities in less affluent parts of the country, serving labour markets with low wages. We should not allow a situation to develop where institutions with a valuable function in developing local economies feel incentives to send their talented graduates outside those economies to ensure metrics are met.

For institutions, it makes it clear that you will need to be absolutely on point about your local labour markets and to understand where your student cohort comes from. There’s a lot more to understand about how and why graduates move to find work, and what this means for the UK. Is it right to think of the ‘UK graduate labour market’ at all as anything but an abstract, or is it really a series of overlapping markets with their own character and needs? And, crucially, how do we ensure that a framework develops that does not effectively penalise universities for not being near London? We have work to do.

 

 

 

2016 – the year of graduate undersupply

This morning, RICS, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, released their Q4 Construction Market Survey. 66% of construction professionals reported recruitment difficulties to be the most significant barrier to growth in the last quarter of 2015. 60% of survey respondents had difficulties finding quantity surveyors.

At the same time, HESA’s new figures on student numbers showed that the number of students enrolled in UK higher education fell 1% last year.

The RICS data follows a pattern emerging from many sources in recent months. The British Chambers of Commerce noted in their Q4 Quarterly Economic Survey that 79% of manufacturing companies and 64% of service companies had trouble recruiting last quarter (more data on their excellent web site). The image below, taken from their site, puts those difficulties into context.

BCC recruitment difficulties
The British Chambers of Commerce do some very good graphics

And a recent report from Universities UK (to which I contributed) notes that we currently have an undersupply, in total, of graduates.

We will shortly get Employer Skills Survey data from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills that will help us to map the nature and extent of many of these undersupplies, but even data from the 2013 survey outlined widespread shortages of graduates across multiple sectors.

Some of the most serious are in engineering, where we simply don’t have enough graduates in most disciplines, and in IT, where there are not enough graduates with the skills to meet demand. The RICS report shows that allied professions particularly surveyors, but also planners and related roles, are in short supply. But the focus on STEM skills does tends to distract from the fact that we also have widespread graduate recruitment difficulties across many service industries.

There are two main ways we can address this issue wrongly. The first is to assume that the problem is that graduates are not good enough and berate the education system. Although not all graduates will be as ready to enter the workplace as they could be, this only applies to a minority. The 2013 ESS found that the large majority – well over 80% – of recruiters felt that graduates were well-prepared for work. The second is to blame graduates for their career choices. Now we charge students £9,000 a year to take a higher education degree, explicitly on the grounds that they will personally benefit from their study, they quite reasonably feel they can then do as they choose with that qualification.

The issue is that there are not enough graduates, and that those we do have are not always easily convinced or trained to enter the professions where we most need them, and that this undersupply of graduates is an active barrier to growth in some industries.

This can be frustrating. A majority of graduate occupations are, at least in theory, open to graduates from any discipline, and this goes particularly for occupations in business service industries. We see this most starkly in marketing, an expanding occupation with significant demand for graduates and where marketing graduates made up a relatively small minority of entrants in 2014 because there were simply not enough to meet demand.

But it’s not always that easy. For many graduates in less vocational degrees that allow significant career flexibility, the sheer range of options can itself be paralysing. It becomes very difficult to choose from the dizzying range of career options available, especially when a student is not really familiar with what they all entail. And whilst there is more some sections of the economy can do to persuade workers with the right skills to join their industries, the same is not true everywhere. If we want to fill mechanical engineering vacancies, we need suitably qualified people.

But are we doing enough to help that process along? Do we make it easy enough for graduates with appropriate qualifications to convert to professions like engineering or surveying where the lack of qualified staff actively harms economic growth?

As we go into 2016 with recruitment difficulties towards the top of the agenda, these are some of the questions we need to wrestle with.

For institutions, we need to ensure that students get the right support and guidance and to build their confidence so that they feel equipped to make decisions. Just because the market is rather better for graduates in 2016 than it was in 2012 doesn’t mean that the decision making process is any easier.

For employers, this year will see more recruitment and retention difficulties. It will mean being more innovative about addressing them, looking more widely at the likely supply of graduates in their business areas, examining reward packages and ensuring that they remain competitive and about developing new strategies to cope. These issues are not likely to go away until we have another recession, and even then they will be only temporarily put on hold before they return.

For students, this means recognising that good graduates will be in demand from multiple sectors, but only those who keep their options open. Good advice and guidance can help make those difficult decisions – but they should never forget that they have a long working life ahead of them, and it’s ok if they don’t quite know what they want to do, or even if they spend a little while doing something that they later conclude isn’t for them. Better to make career mistakes early.

As recent economic news, and the worries expressed from some quarters shows, there is a lot that can happen in 2016. But the most likely outcome at the moment is that in 2017 we’ll have more shortages of graduates over more areas. Let’s try to mitigate that as much as we can.

A Tale Of Two Jobs Markets

I’ve been looking at Annual Population Survey data today, looking at how occupational data has changed since the start of the recession.

If you delve into NOMIS, you can look at APS data to September 2013 (this link should take you straight there). I compared employment data by SOC for September 2013, with September 2008, right at the very start of the recession, to take a look at home the jobs market has changed.

employment balance
Change in the number of workers in each occupational subgroup between September 2008 and September 2013. Data source is Annual Population Survey/Labour Force Survey data analysed using NOMIS.

Everything down to, and including, ‘business and public service associate professionals’ is ‘professional level’ – or, paraphrased, are jobs for which a degree is now more-or-less a requirement. Everything below isn’t.

There’s two jobs markets here. The professional jobs market, quite focused on London and its surroundings, but with other areas of strength around the country, and that’s thriving (unless you’re in the Armed Forces). And then there’s everything else except working as a classroom assistant, a carer or something similar. More geographically spread, less well-paid, and those jobs have gone by the tens of thousands. Much of the damage actually happened in the early parts of the recession, and some of it represents long-term occupational decline. In September 2005, the largest of these groups by number in the economy was the ‘administrative occupations’. Now, it’s the ‘elementary administrative & service occupations’. Almost all of these occupational groups are also up on 2012, when employment was especially bad – particularly the skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades.

But it is food for thought. A lot of people in occupations towards the bottom end of the graph will struggle to get work in jobs at the top end. It’s all very well saying we’re creating a load of STEM jobs, but they’re not much use to tens of thousands of former plant, process and machine operatives now out of work and lacking the qualifications to take those opportunities.

Most graduates from most courses at most institutions will get decent jobs, and the areas that they’re looking to work in, by and large, are expanding. It’s not easy to get work for most, but in most cases it’s a lot easier than it would be if they hadn’t gone.

Model data – construction

The Model Graduates are a bit concerned about proper health and safety procedures.

3,895 UK domiciled graduates from 2012/13 were working in construction after six months
3,895 UK domiciled first degree graduates from 2012/13 were known to be working in construction (including civil engineering) after six months. I hope any drill operators in that number were issued with proper ear protectors and eye protection, unlike our Model Graduate here.

As well as 3,895 first degree graduates, construction employed 620 Masters graduates and 815 HND, Foundation degree and other undergraduate degree holders. Most common first degree subjects are unsurprising – civil engineering, quantity surveying, construction management, and building. Fifth most common – business studies.

Model data – Engineering degrees

Let’s take a quick look at some figures for engineers.

Number of first degree graduates (including MEng) from 2012/13 known to be working as engineers after six months - 6,250
Number of first degree graduates (including MEng) from 2012/13 known to be working as engineers after six months – 6,250

For arcane reasons, 4 year integrated MEng courses are counted as undergraduate. Since you’re asking, this figure breaks down as 2,480 integrated 4 year graduates and 3,770 standard undergraduates with BEngs. Most common jobs were civil engineers (most common for the MEngs) and mechanical engineers (most common for the BEngs).

Number of  postgraduates from 2012/13 known to be working as engineers after six months: 2,135. Almost all were Masters graduates (not from integrated 4 year degrees).
Number of postgraduates from 2012/13 known to be working as engineers after six months: 2,135. Almost all were Masters graduates (not from integrated 4 year degrees).

Masters make up the bulk of this group – 1,570. 370 were PhDs and the rest were other flavours of PG qualification. Specialised and niche engineering professions were most common; civil engineering, engineering design and development and mechanical engineering next most common.

Model Data – Classics degrees

We don’t cover Classic degrees in What Do Graduates Do? because there aren’t enough of them at the moment. So let’s look at some stats.

1,150 first degrees in Classic awarded to UK students by UK universities in 2012/13
1,150 first degrees in Classic awarded to UK students by UK universities in 2012/13

24.5% of Classic graduates were from the South East. Most common part of the country for Classic graduates from 2012/13 to have hailed from – Kent.

60.4% of Classic graduates from 2012/13 were in work after six months
60.4% of Classic graduates from 2012/13 were in work after six months

24.3% of UK-domiciled Classics graduates were in further study six months after graduation.

Most common professional level jobs for Classic graduates were (in order) - Marketing executives - Financial analysts - Education roles (not in teaching) - Personnel/HR officers - Secondary school teachers - Journalists or periodical editors.
Most common professional level jobs for Classic graduates were (in order) – Marketing executives – Financial analysts – Education roles (not in teaching) – Personnel/HR officers – Secondary school teachers – Journalists or periodical editors.

General business professionals should be at number 4 in that list, but we often don’t get a lot of information about what they’re actually doing so I’ve left them out. Journalism is the next most common job. But, in the end, Classics graduates actually went into a very wide range of roles – largely in business, education and creative industries – and 35% were working in London after six months.

Model Data Science Special

2,070 UK domiciled first degree graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation
2,070 UK domiciled first degree graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation

2070 first degree graduates from 2012/13 went into science roles after six months, up from 1795 the year before. Jobs as chemists, and medical scientists saw a particular rise, but most roles saw increases. Geology was the only real faller at first degree level

1,315 UK domiciled Masters graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation
1,315 UK domiciled Masters graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation

1315 Masters graduates from 2012/13 went into science roles after six months, up from 1195 the year before, largely down to an increase in Masters graduates going into roles as biochemists or medical scientists.

2,075 UK domiciled doctoral graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation (not including postdocs)
2,075 UK domiciled doctoral graduates from UK universities in 2012/13 were employed as scientists six months after graduation

2075 doctoral graduates from 2012/13 went into science roles after six months, up from 1780 the year before. This was largely driven by an increase in research roles at university, but also by increases in roles in the biological sciences and in geology.