‘What Do Graduates Do?’ is a new survey conducted by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) in association with the Universities and Collesges Admissions Services (UCAS) and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. This research has shown that the prospects of a graduate facing unemployment are now at their highest level since 1995/6.

The survey was conducted amongst 220,065 graduates from 2008. Of those surveyed, 7.9% were unemployed. This is an increase of 2.4%.

With regards to those graduates who were successful in finding employment, these figures have decreased in every sector. Financial services housed 7.5% of graduates compared with 8.7% the previous year. There was a similar decrease in graduates working within the IT sector.

HECSU chief executive Mike Hill says “We’re now starting to see the extent of the impact the recession has had on graduate unemployment. Despite unemployment increasing, for those who have found a job, salary levels are holding up. Any signs of economic recovery may not be reflected in the destinations of new graduates until the 2010 graduating cohort. In fact it’s likely that unemployment for 2009 graduates may be even higher than that reported here. However, graduates shouldn’t feel disheartened; many organisations continue to recruit, and a degree will certainly remain valuable for many years to come.”

Meanwhile, another new report from Centre for Cities has detailed that 52% of graduates currently work in the public sector. However, it is expected that 290,000 public service jobs will be lost over the next five years.

Dermot Finch, chief executive of Centre for Cities, commented: “In a public spending squeeze, UK graduates will continue to find it tough to take their first step on the employment ladder. This means more private-sector opportunities will be needed to bridge the gap.”

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