Recent government statistics suggest that 87% of graduates are in employment, with 66% in high skilled employment (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), 2016a). Although the 2008 recession had an adverse impact on high skilled employment figures, recently there has been an increase in high skilled employment (ibid.). For one London University, these figures are different. General employment of its graduate students is above 90%, however, the number in graduate employment is much lower at 46%. Although it must be noted that ‘high skilled’ employment and ‘graduate’ employment may not be identical, it does suggest that students graduating from this university perform less well in the world of graduate employment than their peers from other universities.
The London University in this study is a post 1992 'widening participation' university. Students are considered to be non-traditional because of their age and background. Many are first in their family to attend university, and therefore would also be the first to secure graduate employment. However, as mentioned, statistics demonstrate that this is not the trend....
The purpose of this study is to explore why the graduate employment figure is so low, with an aim to ultimately address potential issues in order to increase this figure. The research will focus on the students registered on an Education Studies programme at one university in London, and will be conducted in two phases. The objective of the first phase was to identify students’ expectations, aspirations, goals and anxieties, as they entered their journey into Higher Education (HE). The second phase will focus on students who have graduated from this university and will explore their experiences of entering the (graduate) labour market.
The main research questions are:
- What are the aspirations, goals and concerns of first year students on an Education Studies programme (what do they hope to achieve; what do they think might prevent them from achieving this).
- What are the experiences of Education Studies graduates when entering the workforce (what jobs did they apply for; did they find employment; current aspirations).
The picture becomes gloomier, as there does not appear to be a shortage of graduate jobs available. According to High Fliers Research (2016), the number of graduates hired by the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers rose by over three per cent, with plans to expand graduate recruitment by a further 7.5 per cent, taking graduate recruitment to its highest-ever level. It seems, however, that students in this study miss out on such opportunities. It has been argued (BIS, 2016a) that Black graduates had lower high skilled employment rates and higher unemployment rates than White and Asian graduates. Although the differences in overall employment rates between white graduates and those from minority ethnicitieshave decreased, differences in professional employment rates have not improved and graduates from minority ethnicities have much lower professional employment rates (HEFCE, 2016). In addition, the same research has shown that graduates from the most advantaged backgrounds have substantially higher professional employment rates than those from the least advantaged backgrounds (ibid).
From a European perspective this research is equally relevant as the OECD (2014) points out that most European countries have also seen a significant expansion of HE with the number of graduates increasing faster than that of high-skilled jobs available. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) (2015) warns that this may lead to a process of filtering down, with graduates taking up lower-skilled jobs. Holding a degree may therefore not guarantee a graduate job; a potential issue for all students in Europe.
Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction London, UK: Routledge and Kegan Paul Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (2015) Over-qualification and skills mismatch in the graduate labour market. London: CIPD Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2016a) Graduate Labour Market Statistics. London: BIS Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2016b) Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice. London: BIS High Fliers Research (2016) The Graduate Market in 2016. London: High Fliers Research Higher Education Council for England (2016) Differences in employment outcomes: Comparison of 2008-09 and 2010-11 first degree graduates Nash, R. (1990) Bourdieu on Education and Social and Cultural Reproduction British Journal of Sociology of Education 11, 4: pp 431-447 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2014) Education at a glance. Paris: OECD.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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