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Second highest work rate but lowest pay for media studies graduates

In April-June 2013, people with a degree in medicine or dentistry had the highest employment rate of all graduates, at 95%, followed by those with media and information studies degrees (93%), a new report from ONS shows. However, while the medical graduates had the highest median pay, at £45,600 a year, media and information studies graduates had the lowest pay of all subject groups, at £21,000.

After medicine and media studies, the next highest employment rates were for medical-related subject, such as nursing or midwifery (93%), technology (92%), agricultural sciences (91%), and architecture (90%). The graduate employment rate was lowest for those with humanities degrees, at 84%, followed by arts (85%), languages (87%), education (88%), and social sciences and law (89%).

The report also shows an upward trend in the proportion of recent graduates who are working in what can be classified as non-graduate jobs – those for which a higher educational background is not usually required. In April-June 2001, 37% of recent graduates in employment were in non-graduate roles, whereas by 2013 this had risen to 47%. Most of this rise has happened since the 2008/09 recession.

The proportion of the population classed as graduates has been rising steadily, going from 17% in 1992 to 38% in 2013. Graduates have had consistently higher employment rates and consistently lower unemployment rates than non-graduates over the past decade. In April-June 2013 the graduate employment rate was 87%, which compares with 83% for those educated to A-level standard, 76% for those educated to GCSE (grade A* to C), 70% for those with other qualifications and 47% for those with non qualifications (though this latter figure may be affected by the higher average age of this group).

Recent graduates have consistently lower unemployment rates than non-graduates aged 21 to 30 (9% in April-June 2013, compared with 14% for young non-graduates), indicating that going on to higher education can help a young person find a job. The unemployment rate for graduates who had left full-time education more than five years ago stood at 3% and for non-graduates aged over 30 it was 6%.

Graduates were much less likely than non-graduates to be out of the labour market, with an inactivity rate of only 9% in April-June 2013 compared with 13% for those with A-levels and 18% for those with A* to C grade GCSEs. Just 4% of graduates gave “looking after family or home” as their reason for inactivity, compared with 8% of non-graduates, despite a slightly higher proportion of the former having dependent children.

Annual earnings for graduates increase at a fast pace as they become older and more experienced in the workplace, before levelling out around age 38 at a median of £35,000 a year. In contrast average earnings for those who left education with an A* to C grade GCSE level out at around age 32 at about £19,000, and those for with A-levels at about age 34 on around £22,000.

The report also looks at the proportion of graduates in the population by region. In 2012, much the highest proportion of graduates was to be found in Inner London, where 60% of the population were graduates. The next highest proportion was in Outer London (45%), followed by Scotland (41%). The lowest proportions of graduates were in the North East (29%), followed by the West Midlands (30%). However, London also had the highest graduate unemployment rates (6% for Outer London and 5% for Inner London), possibly connected with the younger average age of graduates there.

Background notes

  1. The report looks at people aged between 21 (since most younger people will not have had time to complete a graduate level qualification) and either 64 (for men) or 59 (for women). The different upper age limits for men and women were used for consistency, because some of the time series includes periods before the state pension age for women began to rise above 60.  
  2. The classification of graduate and non-graduate jobs used is one developed by Warwick University. Examples of non-graduate jobs include secretaries, sales assistants, factory workers and care workers.
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  5. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. © Crown copyright 2013.

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