“I feel overqualified at the moment working in a supermarket because for this job I’m doing now I don’t necessarily need a degree. “Poppy Hunt would definitely like to earn a bit more money.She graduated in Fine Art from the University of the West of England six months ago. She’s currently working as a customer services assistant for Sainsbury’s in Bristol. Poppy wants to apply for museum and art gallery jobs.But working 39 hours a week in a supermarket, she is finding it tough to build up the required experience to secure a break into the arts. “It might be one of those careers that it’s better to have work experience in necessarily than having a degree,” she says.
Poppy wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she left university in the summer, but it didn’t take long for graduate Jessica Davies to land on her feet and forge a career in the world of recruitment. She just wishes she hadn’t racked up £48,000 of student debt in the process. “I left university as anyone does and suddenly thought: what now? I had this great degree and wanted to go out there and get a job that suited me.” But she ended up in a job which doesn’t require a degree.Jessica left the London School of Economics in 2016 with a 2:1 in Economic History. She doesn’t regret it. But for her career, it wasn’t really necessary: “I’ve found something that I’m good at, that I can do well, but also that I enjoy. I could have gone into recruitment four years ago before my degree and probably done just as well. It’s not something that was worth £48,000 now, ” she says.Fee incentiveThe Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development has been tracking graduate outcomes and reckons that for those who left in the 2015 university year, 48% ended up in non-graduate jobs six months on. “We need to recognise that for many university does still pay, however, for a growing proportion it is not delivering either the salary or employment outcomes that actually we want to see. 77% of people will not actually repay their student loans in full.”Unless we actually see degrees creating value for the economy it is a big problem.” says Lizzie Crowley, the author of the report. Her organisation wants UK universities to be prevented from charging the maximum level of tuition fees unless they deliver better graduate outcomes:”As we look ahead to the budget next week, the government should consider linking tuition fees to graduate destination data in order to prevent higher education institutions charging top rate fees while delivering bottom rate outcomes,” she says. “This report shows that the pre-occupation of successive governments with boosting graduate numbers is leading to high levels of over-qualification and potentially skills mismatches, with the OECD suggests undermines productivity growth.”The CIPD figures are based on the most recent data from the Higher Education Statistics Authority.But the head of Universities UK, Alistair Jarvis, says assessing the employment outcomes for graduates only six months after they leave is too crude a measure: “Six months after graduation a lot of graduates are deciding what they want to do in the future still.”Over the last year there were 4% more graduate vacancies than the year before and this is the fifth year in a row that employers are telling us we need more graduates and not [fewer],” he says.”University is not the best choice for everyone, apprenticeships are the right choice for some people. But employers are demanding more graduates.”The graduate earnings premium is an average £9,500 per year and graduates are half as likely to be unemployed as non graduates. There are many many good graduate outcomes coming from universities.”Mind the gapThe CIPD also uncovered a gender pay gap. It found women on average were paid £21,500 six months after graduation, compared to the average salary of £24,000 for male graduates. What surprised researchers most was the fact that the pay gap was baked in from the point of graduation, regardless of what women studied or where, compared with their male peers.For instance:* More than a quarter ( 28%) of male law graduates were earning more than £30,000, compared with just over one in ten (14%) of female law graduates. * Nearly three quarters (71%) of male medicine and dentistry graduates were earning more than £30,000, compared to three in five (62%) female graduates* Female graduates who managed to secure a job in the top occupational band (managers and senior officials) were almost twice as likely to be paid less than £20,000 as their male counterparts, with 25% of women in this category compared with 15% of men.The report also found that almost a third of total graduates (29%) were on a salary of less than £20,000 six months after graduating, well below the UK average of £28,300.The CIPD argues that with the spiralling costs of university, students need to ask themselves whether a degree path is the best route into a career and that much better career advice and guidance was needed to ensure that young people were equipped with the information they need to make informed decisions, alongside high quality alternative vocational roles into employment that offer routes other than university education.