Graduate Labour Market


The following is a summary of a report tabled at the May 2013 meeting of the Sub-Committee on Student Development and Employability, which made the following recommendation:


That the Careers Centre provides a labour market report, on an annual basis, focussing on institutional-, regional- and national-level employment trends, in terms of volume and type of graduate jobs – to be presented annually at the May meeting of the sub-committee;
In this way, it will ensure that the sub-committee is made aware of relevant issues and trends emanating from labour market intelligence, for example, career development issues such as employers’ demands for graduate skills. It will also provide year on year comparisons/changing trends.
It will also allow the Careers Centre to ensure that the sub-committee is informed of anything other matters which might impact, either positively or negatively, on Reading’s position in league tables for graduate employment, for example, support from the University to more effectively promote the main source of vacancies for students and graduates, My Jobs Online, or, another example, resourcing for the DLHE data collection exercise to ensure that the best possible set of results are achieved.

Firstly, a health warning…

Do not trust anyone who claims to have all of the answers!

anything I say that is verifiable is based on information that is now out of date, and anything that is timely is merely speculative. This is the basis of all economic and labour market forecasting.

Charlie Ball, Deputy Director of Research, Higher Education Careers Service Unit (HECSU)
Much of the data available is historical and any predictions of growth or decline in business sectors are always “best guess”.

Commonly used sources

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) and High Fliers surveys are the main stays of graduate labour market reporting, but are based on relatively small cohorts of large, blue chip companies, with a bias to those in financial sectors.
Therefore, it is unwise to accept these reports as comprehensive summaries of the graduate labour market.
Other data sources of value:

  • Office for National Statistics, Graduates in the Labour Market (March 2012)- – This analyses graduate unemployment over the recent past and considers the wages of graduates in the UK.
  • What Do Graduates Do? (HECSU) – – this presents findings from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey, with useful subject-based data, plus regional employment trends.
  • The HECSU blog – – with articles posted by the aforementioned Charlie Ball provides a useful commentary of recent trends and labour market reports.
  • One of the more indicative summaries is the AGCAS quarterly reports, based on feedback from Heads of UK HEI careers services with summaries of the type of vacancies placed.

The outlook for 2013, aka the ‘current picture’

What follows is a précis of Charlie Ball’s summary (What will the graduate jobs market be like in 2013? January 2013 –
The outlook for graduates in 2013 is unlikely to be markedly different than it was for those completing courses in 2012. Recovery remains slow and uncertain, the current graduate jobs market will probably be the new status quo for the next three or four years.
Sectors unlikely to see much growth in 2013:

  • Manufacturing, construction, science/engineering, public sector services.

Those that are showing signs of recovery:

  • Consultancy, finance and service industries, IT.

Salaries are not expected to move much – although areas of skills shortages may see pay increases.

High Fliers – The Graduate Market 2013

The Graduate Market in 2013 is a study of the latest graduate vacancies and starting salaries at one hundred of the UK’s best-known and most successful employers, conducted by High Fliers Research during December 2012
Employers surveyed expect 2013 to be a little better than 2012.
The largest recruiters of graduates in 2013 will be Teach First (1260 vacancies), Deloitte (1,200 vacancies) and PwC (1,200 vacancies).
Benchmarking graduate vacancies in 2013 with those available six years ago shows that recruitment is still well below pre-recession levels – across all the organisations featured within the research, the number of vacancies on offer this year remains more than 10% lower than in 2007.
Over half the recruiters who took part in the research warn that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.

AGCAS quarterly reports

There was a degree of optimism from heads of careers services in the final quarter of 2012, with 80% saying the picture was more buoyant or at least the same than in the previous quarter.
However, on the flip side many reported that a fair degree of the growth is to be found in part-time vacancy/internships positions compared to full-time permanent jobs.

The picture in the Thames Valley region

The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership announced in May 2013 that economic performance has increased for Thames Valley businesses, according to the Q1 2013 Thames Valley Business Barometer.
Specifically regarding recruitment in the region, almost nine in ten businesses have increased headcount or held steady in the last three months – with a further 45% expected to recruit in Q2 2013, suggesting a continued positive movement for Thames Valley employment levels. However, it is worth noting that this refers to general recruitment, rather than graduate recruitment.
According to High Fliers, of the major graduate recruiters, over half have opportunities available in the South East. The only area with a greater number of opportunities is London (with four-fifths of major graduate recruiters offering opportunities in the capital).
DLHE survey results show that a fair proportion of Reading graduates in work stay in the local area – up to one third of all those in work. Of those in work, half either work in the local area or in London or the South East.

Careers Centre vacancy trends

In similar vein to the AGCAS quarterly reports, a summary of the type of opportunities placed with the Careers Centre provides a good indication of changing trends and areas of growth and decline.
The last 12 months has seen a large increase in the number of graduate vacancies placed via our vacancy system, My Jobs Online, compared to the same period in 2011-12 (though this is partly due to employers becoming more familiar with the vacancy advertising system, better marketing of Careers Centre activities, and the higher profile provided by the opening of the Job Shop).
The leading business areas advertised on My Jobs Online so far this academic year are (2011-12 in brackets):

  • Information technology and telecommunications – 13% (15%)
  • Advertising, marketing and PR – 8% (8%)
  • Retail and sales – 8% (5%)
  • Business, management and consultancy – 7% (8%)
  • Engineering – 6% (6%)
  • Property – 5% (3%)
  • Education and research – 5% (7%)
  • Accountancy and financial services – 5% (6%)
  • Administration and office work – 3% (0%)
  • Banking, investment and insurance – 3% (2%)
  • Construction – 3% (2%)
  • Media and Publishing – 3% (3%)

Destinations of graduates data

Generally, it is not advisable to use historic data such as the DLHE survey as a predictor of what will happen in the future. The latest available national DLHE data is for graduates from 2011; for the University of Reading it is for graduates from 2012. That said, economic conditions have not changed markedly in the last two years (i.e. slow or no growth) so those graduating in 2013 are likely to face the same challenges that their peers did in 2011 and 2012.
Subjects studied largely remain a good indicator of employment success. Graduates (2012) from more applied and vocational courses are positive. For example,

  • 85% of Food Biosciences graduates were reported as being in full-time work (FTW) in the Autumn of 2012, 96% of them in professional or managerial (PM) roles;
  • for Pharmacy it was 99% FTW/100% PM;
  • Construction management: 84% FTW/98% PM – somewhat bucking the national trend which shows slow growth in the construction industry;
  • Real Estate: 78% FTW/97% PM;
  • Agriculture: 80% FTW/51% PM;
  • Computer Science: 87% FTW/97% PM;
  • Typography: 83% FTW/89% PM.

The exception is Clinical Language Sciences where 59% are in full-time work with an unusually high proportion, 32%, in part-time work. Of those in full-time work, only 57% are in professional (i.e. Speech/Language Therapist) roles, a clear reflection of the effect of cuts in public spending (occupations which saw the largest drop in the proportion of graduates from 2010/11 compared to 2009/10 graduates, include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical radiographers, secondary and primary school teachers, probation officers and social workers).

Sources The AGR Graduate Recruitment Survey 2013 (Winter Review):
High Fliers – The Graduate Market 2013: The report is available at‎
What Do Graduates Do? (HECSU) –
Office for National Statistics, Graduates in the Labour Market (March 2012)-