Student confidence in the graduate jobs market has plummeted since Labour came to power, according to a major survey published today.
Only about a third of this year's finalists expect to get graduate-level work when they leave university, according to the UK Graduate Careers Survey, which found one in four final-year students planned further study as many felt having a first degree was no longer enough to get a good job.
The survey of more than 16,000 students, carried out by High Fliers Research, found 36% expected to start graduate-level jobs after university, compared with 49% in 1997/98. A further 8% expect to take a temporary job or a position in the voluntary sector, 17% think they will take time off or go travelling and 14% of those questioned said they were undecided about their plans.
The director of the survey, Martin Birchall, said the findings would be "a huge disappointment for the government", which wants more young people to go to college.
"A record number of graduates are set to complete their degrees this summer," he said. "But our research highlights the widespread fear amongst the UK's top students that there are nowhere near enough graduate-level jobs for today's university leavers.
"The reality is that whilst the university population has grown by over two-thirds during the last decade, the number of job vacancies for graduates has increased by barely 10%," he said.
Although the most popular choices for this year's graduates are teaching, the media, marketing and investment banking - closely followed by the civil service and charities - there has been a 57% increase in the number of graduates applying to join the police. As well as a major recruitment campaign in universities by the police to attract high flyers, the change reflects a drop in applications to the armed forces in the wake of the Iraq war.
Among the most important factors students listed when making applications were starting salary and location, with London still the most popular place to begin work. This year's graduates expect to earn £19,800 a year on average for their first job, 4% more than last year.
More than one in 10 said they could be earning more than £100,000 a year by the time they are 30.
High Fliers Research surveyed 16,113 students at 30 UK universities.
Thursday April 21, 2005