Graduate jobs outlook improves for those with a master’s

Report from careers advice service Prospects points to significant rise in employment rate for those with higher level qualifications

February 9, 2016

The employment rate for master’s students has significantly risen for the first time since the recession, according to a study.

According to the latest Graduate Market Trends report from the university careers advice service Prospects, unemployment rates fell from 9.4 per cent to 7.5 per cent between 2014 and 2015, after hardly falling the year before.

This is different from the employment figures for first-degree graduates, where the unemployment rate has steadily decreased since 2011-12.

However, while it appears that employment rates for first-degree graduates were quicker to recover from the recession, the latest figures also show that 87 per cent of master’s graduates currently obtain “professional level” jobs compared with just 68.2 per cent of their first-degree counterparts. Part-time master’s graduates had an even better chance of securing a professional level job, with 93 per cent holding one in 2015. 

Charlie Ball, the head of higher education intelligence at Prospects, said that the high professional-level employment rate of part-time master’s graduates was due to the likelihood that they will have previous work experience and a greater prospect of “returning to previous employers” after graduation.

This supports a recent study by High Fliers Research whose study The Graduate Market in 2015 highlighted the importance employers placed on work experience.

That report found that “almost half” of graduate recruiters claimed that it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that a graduate with no previous work experience with employers would be successful, regardless of “academic achievements”.

The Prospects study – which analysed Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) data for 42,320 master’s graduates six months after they left their course – also gave an optimistic outlook for future employment rates, with Mr Bell concluding that it offers “hope” for those graduating next year.

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