The 'under-employment' crisis: Nearly half of recent graduates work jobs which don't require a degree

Under-employment is a "massive waste" of skills investment, says expert

Almost half of recent graduates are in jobs which do not need a higher education background, new figures have shown.

An expert said the level of under-employment revealed a "massive waste" of investment in skills.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there had been an upward trend in the proportion of recent graduates working in non-graduate jobs - up from 37 per cent in 2001 to 47 per cent this year, with most of the increase happening since the 2008/09 recession.

The figures also revealed that almost nine out of 10 graduates were in work, compared to an employment rate of 83 per cent for those educated to A-level standard, 76 per cent for GCSE, 70 per cent for other qualifications and 47 per cent for those with no qualifications.

Annual earnings for graduates increase at a faster pace as they become older, before levelling out in their late 30s at a median level of £35,000 a year, well above those without a degree, the study found.

People with a degree in medicine or dentistry had the highest employment rate of all graduates at 95 per cent , followed by those with media and information studies degrees (93 per cent), although pay rates varied.

Medical graduates had the highest median pay at £45,600, while media and information studies graduates had the lowest, at £21,000.

Dr John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist, said: "The pre-recession rates of underemployment of graduate skills in the UK economy were already disappointing - the post-recession rates represent an alarming jump in under-employment and a massive waste of investment in skills."

Steve Radley, director of policy at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Today's figures show that graduates have not escaped the squeeze on pay but they also highlight the major impact that subject choices have on earnings. Graduates in engineering are the second highest earners and those in physical sciences earn far beyond average also.

"We need a concerted effort to get more young people studying the science and engineering degrees that will drive our economy forward and more of them taking up well paid opportunities."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "While university leavers are still better paid and more likely to have a job than non-graduates of the same age, their prospects are worsening, just as their debts are soaring.

"Having got themselves tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt, nearly half of all recent graduates are doing lower-skilled jobs. This is in turn pushing young people who don't have a degree out of work altogether.

"The Government's approach of making young people pay more to get less from higher education is deeply unfair and makes no economic sense. Ministers should admit that 'any old job' is not good enough for heavily-indebted graduates and start prioritising high-quality job creation."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test