One in seven graduates are working more than 50 hours a week in a bid to get ahead in a tough labour market, sayas a new report by Graduate Prospects.

The annual Real Prospects1 study asked 22,000 employed and self-employed graduates about their experiences of the world of work across all sectors. It explores how employers manage the transition between education and employment, and asks graduates what more universities could do to help students prepare for work, how they feel about their job and what career development support employers should offer.

The research found that one in seven graduates is working more than 50 hours a week and this rises to 18% for those working in London.

Almost half (45%) of graduates feel under pressure to work more than their contracted hours – either to keep on top of their work (87%), to prove themselves as a committed employee (67%) or because it’s the norm in their organisation (57%). The top three most pressurised working environments are legal services (71%), accountancy (64%) and PR/marketing/advertising (53%).

Mike Hill, chief executive at Graduate Prospects says: “Gen Y has been regarded as the ‘lazy’ generation, favouring life over work, but the research points to quite the opposite with many graduates developing as strong a work ethic as previous generations.

“This is undoubtedly a sign of the times. The labour market remains uncertain and the full impact of the public sector cuts is yet to be seen. Graduates are working hard to ensure they remain in employment and get ahead.”

The study also examines attitudes to pay and benefits. Only half (53%) of graduates are satisfied with what they earn, with 77% receiving less than £30,000 (majority earns £20,000-£25,000). Almost a third (30%) feels that their pay and benefits package compares less favourably to their contemporaries in similar roles.

Salaries vary greatly between job roles and sector, but according to the data, graduate solicitors are the biggest earners, receiving £35,000-40,000, followed by scientists, engineers and software engineers – the majority of which earn £25,000-£30,000.