UEA graduates withstanding economic downturn

Graduates from the University of East Anglia appear to have withstood the economic downturn well so far, with unemployment rates well below the national average.

Across the country unemployment among graduates is at its highest in nearly two decades.

Some 8.9pc (about 21,000) of those who left university last year were without a job six months later, according to a study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

The last time unemployment among graduates reached these kinds of levels was during 1992/93, when graduate unemployment reached 11.6pc, HECSU said.

The unemployment rate for UEA graduates was below 5.7pc, however, although the future impact of public-sector job cuts has yet to be seen.


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More than three-quarters (76.1pc) of last year's UEA graduates were in graduate-level work or study just six months after graduating, and there was a rise of seven per cent in the number of people moving on to postgraduate study.

For those graduating with a full-time first degree, the unemployment rate was slightly higher at 6.7pc, but again this was considerably lower than the national average. Of these, 70.6pc were in graduate-level activity.

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A UEA spokesman said: 'The university is working hard to encourage our students, right from the outset, to think ahead and make sure that they hone the skills needed to secure employment.

'We are also involved in helping to match up graduates with local companies via the Evolve Project, which has set up over 100 internships so far, a number of which have evolved into permanent jobs.'

Tom Dolton, communications officer for the Union of UEA Students, said of the national statistics: 'We were aware that graduates were finding it difficult to find jobs but this figure is surprisingly high.

'It really highlights the fact that the university should be placing emphasis upon the employability skills and transferable knowledge students gain through their degree.

'It is essential that graduates are seen to have an advantage through completing their degree, otherwise it would not merit the huge debt students face.'

No figures were available from City College Norwich, but principal Dick Palmer said: 'These are undoubtedly tough times for graduates who are seeking employment after completion of their higher education.

'However, the picture is more encouraging for those who have chosen to pursue vocational and professional higher education courses, such as the many foundation degrees now available which are developed with employers.

'This is because our degrees relate directly to the skills required for work.

'Many of our higher education students are already working in their chosen professional field or are required to gain relevant work experience as part of their training.

'When they graduate this puts them in a strong position to secure employment quickly or to progress within their current role.'

Charlie Ball, HECSU deputy research director, said: 'Graduate unemployment hasn't risen as high as we feared and is some way off the levels of the last recession in 1992, when it reached 11.6pc.

'Prospects for graduates in the short-term look brighter, with unemployment, as a result of the downturn, likely to have peaked and next year we expect to see a decline.

'However, with the anticipated public-sector job cuts the future in the medium term looks less clear.'

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