One in three new graduates are doing jobs that do not require degrees such as working in call centres, waiting on tables and stacking shelves, statistics show. Thirty-two per cent – over 60,000 – were in ‘non-professional jobs’ in areas including secretarial, sales, customer service and skilled trades six months after graduating last year.
And the number taking particularly menial posts – collecting garbage, washing windows, sorting mail and cleaning buildings – has doubled in seven years. The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency will alarm students, who now face an average debt of more than £30,000 on graduation following the tripling in tuition fees to £9,000-a-year.
Out of a total of 257,395 full-time first degree university-leavers from 2013/14, 75 per cent were in employment six months after graduating. Fourteen per cent had embarked in further study, and seven per cent – 16,730 – were unemployed.
Among the employed graduates in the UK, 60,140 were in ‘non-professional jobs’ including administrative, caring, leisure and sales occupations. Some 840 graduates were working as ‘process, plant and machine operatives’ and 2,315 in ‘skilled trades’ such as plumbing and tiling.
Another 10,855 – 5.8 per cent of those in employment – were in ‘elementary occupations’.
These include mail sorters, bar staff, waiters and waitresses, street vendors, caretakers, shoe cleaners, hotel porters, door-to-door and telephone sales people, vending machine money collectors and meter readers. Among this group, 2,380 had graduated from creative arts and design courses, 1,085 from business and administrative studies, and 1,065 had social studies degrees.
By contrast, only 5,460 or four per cent of students had ended up in these menial ‘elementary occupations’ six months after graduating in 2007. In 2013/14, 68 per cent of employed graduates were in ‘professional’ jobs such as working as managers, directors, senor officials and in technical occupations.
Graduates are also faced with earning an average salary of just £21,500 after leaving university, despite courses now costing £9,000-per-year, the average salary six months after graduation was £21,500.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, yesterday attacked the poor job prospects for some graduates. He said: “For many university leavers, the prospect of finding a job that matches their talents is gloomy. Despite paying huge amounts to get a higher education, many are being forced to take on lower-skilled jobs, which is in turn pushing those who don’t have a degree out of the labour market altogether. Young people are simply not getting the opportunities they deserve. If we don’ t create better jobs for graduates we won’t be able to build the higher-skilled workforce the UK desperately needs to boost productivity and compete with other countries. The government’s economic plan is failing to solve this career gridlock, but action is urgently needed. Bemoaning the lack of decent graduate jobs is becoming an annual event.”
A report warned last year that the growing number of workers who are over-qualified for their role is largely the result of a huge expansion in university education. The centre-left think-tank the Institute for Public Policy research (IPPR) said ‘the number of high-skilled jobs has not kept pace with the rate at which workers are becoming more highly qualified’.
School-leavers would be better prepared for the job market by doing an apprenticeship instead of racking up huge debts at university, the report claimed.