Seven-year wait for graduate pay

May 23, 2003

It takes up to seven years for students to get jobs that pay a graduate premium, according to a study. And those from old universities have a head start over those from higher education colleges and new universities, writes Alison Goddard.

Peter Elias of the University of Warwick and Kate Purcell of the University of the West of England studied groups of graduates who qualified in 1980, 1992 and 1995. It found that half of students from old universities go straight into graduate jobs and that more than three-quarters are in graduate employment by the next September.

Just over 40 per cent of students from new universities and higher education colleges go straight into graduate employment and more than a quarter are still in non-graduate jobs by the following September.

Five types of job were identified: traditional graduate, including medics and academics; modern graduate, including accountants and journalists; new graduate, including social workers and lab technicians; niche graduate, including dental technicians and nurses; and non-graduate, including call-centre operators and sales assistants.

Overall, 90 per cent of graduates end up in graduate jobs; this figure has remained constant for 25 years. Of the 10 per cent who never enter the graduate job market, after seven years 70 per cent are using the skills they developed on their degree course.

Professor Purcell said: "The subjective perceptions of the majority of graduates is that they are in appropriate employment for people with their skills and qualifications."

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