HECSU examines latest destination data of Masters graduates in GMT

In the latest edition of Graduate Market Trends published, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) examines the destinations of Masters graduates since the recession began, finding that for this group of university leavers, recession in the labour market has persisted since 2008.

Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at HECSU reports on data from the HESA Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education surveys from 2007/8 and 2009/10. He says:

“After a fall in employment rates and a rise in unemployment as the recession began in 2008/9, Masters graduates saw outcomes deteriorate further in 2009/10 with no evidence of an end to recession in the employment market.

“In 2009/10, full-time Masters graduates had an overall unemployment rate slightly higher than their full-time undergraduate counterparts. This may be partly attributable to a large rise in the number of individuals graduating with Masters qualifications in, as many individuals who completed first degrees at the height of the recession in 2008/9 opted to return to study… the overall effect has been a steady rise in the unemployment rate for Masters graduates and the one conclusion we can draw with some certainty is that outcomes for Masters graduates are less favourable than they were pre-recession.

“What is not currently clear is whether this is a response to recession and consequent increased enrolment on Masters courses, or indicates a deeper weakness in the labour market for Masters graduates. However, these findings underline that, far from the popular misconception that ‘you need a Masters to get a job these days’, a Masters qualification comes with no guarantee of employment at the end of your course.

“There are many excellent reasons for taking further study, especially for continuing professional development or highly vocational qualifications demanded in specific niche jobs, but if a graduate is struggling in a difficult jobs market, simply taking a further degree without careful thought as to what the student might want to do with it, is unlikely to solve their problems when finding employment.

“Before embarking on further study, prospective students should ensure they seek guidance from professional careers services staff, not just tutors or other areas, as they will be the best equipped to offer advice. For those who do think carefully about further study, the information about the jobs Masters graduates get is encouraging.”

The full analysis of the destinations of Masters graduates in the recession, including the outcome of part-time and full-time graduates, can be read in the summer edition of GMT at www.hecsu.ac.uk.

The journal also examines the latest findings from the Futuretrack: Part-time students research and the statistics behind the soon to be introduced ‘Key Information Sets’. It also features an interview with Professor Jenny Brimrose at University of Warwick about the use of labour market information in careers guidance.