The Work Foundation has offered a report which argues that, contrary to popular belief, the UK actually needs more graduates and the only viable option will be to increase fees. The challenge will be for Vince Cable and his Coalition partners to implement this in a way which maximises access. But these graduates also need to have better quality skills in the right areas to support the sectors that will drive recovery and economic growth over the next decade.
‘Despite the dramatic expansion in students graduating each year, the economy does not have an oversupply of graduates – high unemployment is affecting graduates in the short-term, but as the economy recovers long-term demand will increase as the knowledge economy develops. Knowledge economy activities depend on the ability of workers to process, synthesise, interpret and communicate information – key graduate skills,’ said report author Charles Levy.
Associate director Ian Brinkley added, ‘Jobs which depend on graduate skills have fared well in the recession – employment in knowledge associated occupations has increased in the past two years despite the recession. Job losses have been concentrated in manual, administrative and unskilled occupations. In this way the recession has accelerated progress towards the knowledge economy. This is strengthening the long-term need for more graduates with the right skills. This demand will need to be met through both the sustained expansion of the higher education sector, and through less restrictive migration policy for high level skills.