More new graduates are finding jobs

Lesley Gerard finds students lowering their sights
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The Independent Online
Graduate unemployment has fallen despite a 25 per cent increase in students leaving universities with degrees, a national survey revealed yesterday..

The report, which covers old and new universities, shows employment rates six months after graduation rising by 3 per cent to 43.9 per cent last year Unemployment dropped from 12.7 per cent in 1992 to 11.7 per cent last year.

The figures represent the first drop in graduate unemployment for five years and show a willingness by students to lower expectations and accept jobs traditionally filled by school leavers.

Employers are continuing to target students from old universities in preference to the new universities, once former polytechnics.

Yesterday the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, which prepared the report, What Do Graduates Do? heralded it as a reversal of five years in the doldrums.

The editor of the guide, Jenny Jones of the Careers Advisory Service at Loughborough said: "The higher employment rate - at a time when output itself was explanding indicates a considerable rise in the numbers of graduates entering permanent employment."

The data reveals some surprising statistics. Employment rates for economics, geography, history, maths, modern languages and psychology graduates showed an increase of at least three per cent compared to 1992. Non vocational subjects fared no worse than vocational degrees.

But civil engineering, electrical engineering, computing, physics and sociology graduates suffered unemployment rates of around 13 per cent.

Careers advisers believe recruitment in these professions have been hard hit by the recession, defence cuts and time lags between forecasting demand and the supply of graduates in science subjects.

Margaret Wallis, president of the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services and director of Warwick University's Careers Advisory Service said: "A lot of people felt really cheated by this. A generation has been caught out by the recession."

However, some careers advisers believe employers are beginning to distinguish between engineering and science degrees, noting the difference in entrance qualifications required by some institutions.

Women, the survey reveals, are more likely to get jobs than men. Of 69,917 women whose first destinations were known, 31,777 got full time employment (45.4 per cent), compared to 30,573 out of 72,260 men (42.3 per cent).

Ms Wallis added: "Women are meticulous in their application and seem to be more willing to devote time to career plans. Employers' feedback is that more female candidates present themselves more effectively than males." The disparity may also be caused by the fact that women are believed to be more flexible in their choice of career options and do not expect to use their degree discipline in their work.