Rowena Forbes: How to get ahead in the job market

Postgraduate study is on the rise. According to the National Postgraduate Committee, demand for postgraduate courses in the UK has increased by 41 per cent in five years, compared with 8 per cent for undergraduate study. The
Prospects Postgraduate Directory for 2006-07 reveals that there are more than 58,000 postgraduate courses and research opportunities in the UK and Ireland this year, with hundreds of thousands more available throughout the world.

The potential benefits of further study are many. Postgraduates can develop project management skills, work at the cutting edge of research, and gain qualifications and experience that could give them an edge in a competitive job market.

Here, the stats look good; according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, just 4.8 per cent of UK Masters graduates and 3.9 per cent of PhD graduates were unemployed six months after graduation in 2004, as opposed to 6.1 per cent of undergraduates. The average salary of a full-time Masters graduate was £22,452, compared with £17,029 for an undergrad.

But it should be remembered that a higher proportion of UK postgraduate students are mature students. They are more likely to have experienced permanent employment and be taking a course relevant to their area of work. For example, the most popular UK Masters level subject in 2004 was business studies (incorporating MBAs). Nearly three-quarters of the 5,355 students who took this subject were over 30. It's no surprise they were more likely to be employed, and paid more, than an undergraduate seeking a first permanent, full-time job.

Postgraduate study is most beneficial when it fits within the context of a carefully considered career plan. Some students progressing on to postgraduate courses straight from an undergraduate degree believe that, because they are not yet leaving academia, they can postpone career planning. In fact, it is essential to research the career implications of a postgraduate qualification.

Is an employer likely to value a postgraduate qualification, or prefer a year or two of work experience? Is the course accredited? What are the specialist research interests of the department? What about funding; might an employer consider corporate sponsorship? Are scholarships available? Do any private trusts or charities, or research councils, offer help?

Studying overseas may appeal, and tuition fees and living costs may be lower. Language may not be a barrier; many European countries, such as Sweden, now teach courses in English. With 45 countries involved in the Bologna Process, which aims to improve the comparability and compatibility of higher education courses and qualifications across Europe, the mobility of students and staff across the Continent seems likely to increase.

The University of Manchester's annual Postgraduate Study Fair takes place at Manchester's G-Mex Centre on Wednesday next week. It's an ideal opportunity to investigate hundreds of postgraduate courses, not only across the UK, but also in locations such as Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Germany and Ireland. More than 85 universities will be promoting their postgraduate opportunities, and advisory bodies such as the US Educational Advisory Service and the Arts and Humanities Research Council are attending.

See www.manchester.ac.uk/careers/postgradfair

The writer works for the Manchester Leadership Programme, Careers & Employability Division, University of Manchester

education@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Tangerine Dream Edgar Froese
people
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Junior Developer - Cirencester - £29,000

£25000 - £29000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have be...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us