New science graduates are half as likely to be in stop-gap jobs stacking shelves and cleaning windows as those who studied most other university disciplines, new figures have revealed. They are more likely to have landed professional jobs within six months of finishing their studies than graduates in fields such as history, philosophy, creative arts and even law.
Just five per cent of working science graduates have stop-gap jobs such as shelf-stacking, road-sweeping or operating factory machinery that fail to justify the effort and expense of doing a degree. Yet 11.7 per cent of graduates in media studies, 10.6 per cent in the creative arts, 10 per cent in history or philosophy and 8.9 per cent in languages are languishing in these roles.
Science graduates – including those who studied physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, computer science and medicine – are also less likely to be unemployed six months after finishing university. Across all disciplines, almost 20,000 graduates – eight per cent – were out of work six months after leaving university.
The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency came the day after eminent scientists warned that Britain was failing to produce enough scientists and mathematicians. The Royal Society called for all schoolchildren to study maths and science until the age of 18 to help the country tackle ‘great global challenges’ such as ensuring future food and energy supplies.
A-levels should be axed in the process, said the society, to be replaced by a broader-based baccalaureate-style qualification.
Latest figures for full-time graduates who left university last year show that overall, 69 per cent were in jobs, 5 per cent were both working and studying, 14 per cent were in further study and 4 per cent were travelling.
Men were more likely than women to be jobless but their starting salaries were higher – £20,000 on average for female graduates but £22,500 for male. The statistics showed that graduates’ chances of being jobless varied widely by the subject they studied.
Out of graduates in work, 66 per cent were in jobs classed as ‘professional employment’ such as teachers, solicitors, vets, dentists, pharmacists or engineers – up from 64 per cent in 2012.
Just 5 per cent of working science graduates have stop-gap jobs such as shelf-stacking, road-sweeping or operating factory machinery that fail to justify the effort and expense of doing a degree
But 34 per cent – 59,600 – were in ‘non-professional’ roles that are unlikely to justify the £9,000-a-year cost of degree tuition. These include working in factories and ‘elementary occupations’ such as office juniors, hospital porters, waiters, road sweepers, window cleaners and shelf stackers.
Other non-professional posts include skilled trades, service and caring industries, sales, customer services and secretarial work.
Just 24.7 per cent of science graduates were in non-graduate jobs six months after leaving – against 49.1 per cent of history and philosophy graduates, 47.5 per cent in languages, 46.8 in media studies and 44.6 per cent in creative arts. Even in law, 46.1 per cent of graduates were not yet in professional roles.
Among science subjects, graduates in biology bucked the trend, with 50.8 per cent classed as being in non-professional jobs.
Overall science graduates were less likely to unemployed, with 7 per cent jobless compared with 9 per cent who read social studies, business studies or creative arts and 11 per cent who took media studies.
Computer science graduates bucked this trend, with 13 per cent out-of-work after six months.
In a major new report published yesterday, the Royal Society warned that a million more experts in science, technology and engineering would be needed by 2020. Launching the report, Sir Martin Taylor, a mathematician and chair of the Royal Society’s ‘vision committee’ said: ‘The current education system will not meet the needs of the UK over the next 15 to 20 years, so we need to start building a stable education system that produces scientifically literate citizens now, before it is too late. ‘We all know that we have significant problems with the demand for science, mathematics and engineering skills and their supply. Employers tell us this. We know that only one in eight 16-year-olds goes on to do A-level mathematics. That’s just not enough for a vibrant knowledge economy.
‘We should bear in mind for instance that one million new science, engineering and technology professionals are going to be needed by 2020 and at the current rate we’re falling 40,000 shy of this each year. ‘The UK will provide a leading role in providing solutions to some of the great global challenges that the world is now facing – things like climate change, food and energy security and the ageing population issue.’ The report proposes a series of radical reforms to the education system including the replacement of A-levels with a baccalaureate system where all pupils would study maths and science at some level until age 18.