Britain `is turning out too many graduates'

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The Independent Online
GRADUATES IN Britain may not yet be sweeping the streets, but one in five goes into a low-level job that does not require a degree, says a wide-ranging study published today.

And the supply of graduates will soon outstrip the demand, argues the paper from the Institute for Employment Studies.

More than 400,000 students graduated last year, more than double the number a decade ago, but the number of jobs offered by blue-chip companies has barely risen for 20 years.

While maths, science and engineering graduates are likely to move quickly into managerial or professional jobs, fewer than half of those with degrees in subjects such as social science, English or modern languages easily find graduate jobs.

The report says: "It is apparent that as the graduate labour market has grown and broadened, a substantial number of graduates are in jobs not requiring degree qualifications or are doing work similar to non-graduates."

Many new graduates went into jobs paying salaries between pounds 10,000 and pounds 15,000 - well below the sums offered by the main graduate recruiters.

Employers have been recruiting graduates to do a wider range of jobs because there are more of them, says the report. In some cases, graduates have replaced non-graduates in jobs that have become increasingly demanding. In others, employers have been more interested in personal qualities than qualifications.

Most graduates tend to end up in managerial or professional jobs but the proportion of younger graduates securing top jobs has fallen sharply, down from 72 per cent in 1992 to 56 per cent last year.

One in three new graduates last year went into temporary jobs. However, in the long-term, graduates still earn more and are less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates. Typical earnings for those who graduated three years ago were pounds 16,000 to 17,000, the same as those of new graduate recruits to the largest blue chip companies.

A higher proportion of school leavers in this country - 43 per cent - will go to university at some time during their lives, higher than in any other Western country apart from the United States and Canada. In Switzerland, the figure is 15 per cent. Although the number of high-level jobs in Britain is growing, the supply of high-level jobs for new graduates is expected to exceed the supply.