As the next batch of 7,000 or so students prepare to leave Brighton’s two universities, nationally one graduate in every three that left university in the past six years is in a job that only requires entry-level skills; up from one in four from 10 years ago.
Indeed a graduate with a degree and three years at university under his/her belt is just as likely to be unemployed in the year after they graduate as a school leaver with just five GCSEs. It is tempting to point to the 2008 recession and subsequent austerity but figures from the Office for National Statistics [ONS] show that the proportion of graduates in lower skilled jobs has been rising since 2001. Obviously the recession hasn’t helped but it isn’t to blame.
In the decade since 2001 the number of people graduating from university in the UK has increased by about 50% but higher skilled job creation has not kept pace although it has grown faster than lower skilled jobs.
In Brighton & Hove about 35% of graduates are in jobs that do not require their graduate skills which is very similar to most university towns.
Although school leavers and graduates might share the same employment prospects when they leave full time education, the picture changes markedly thereafter. After two years only 9% of graduates are unemployed compared to over a quarter of school leavers. Over a lifetime of employment graduates also earn more.
Although Brighton & Hove fares no worse than other places when it comes to getting graduates into graduate-level jobs, it represents a shocking waste of potential. With just under 48% of residents qualified to first degree level [NVQ Level 4] few other places in the south-east can compete with us in terms of quality of the workforce but too many commute out of the city every day [about 38,000] to better paying jobs in and around London.
This is just one of the reasons why creating more high-level jobs, like those in the digital sector is a priority for the city.