August 8, 2022

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Graduate unemployment doubled in the year after Covid struck. he impact of the pandemic on...

Graduate unemployment doubled in the year after Covid struck.
he impact of the pandemic on the immediate job prospects of the class of 2020 is highlighted in a Higher Education Authority (HEA) study.
At the height of the spring 2021 lockdown, and nine months after leaving college, 8pc of graduates had no job, up from 4pc two years previously.
Three in four – 76pc – were in employment, down from 80pc two years previously, while an increase in those opting for further study (14pc) accounted for most of the rest.
Among undergraduate honours degree graduates alone – the biggest single cohort surveyed – 70pc were working (down from 75pc), unemployment was 7pc, (up from 4pc) and 21pc were in further study, (up from 19pc).
In line with general trends, the higher the level of qualification, the better the chance of walking into a job soon after graduation.
Among taught masters graduates, 84pc were working, although that was also down, and it was 94pc for PhD graduates.
Those eyeing careers in service sectors such as hospitality and tourism bore the brunt of the downturn, with 12pc without work, up from 5.4pc in March 2019.
On the other hand, education graduates, overall, experienced a slight upturn to 93pc, while almost 87pc of health/welfare honours degree undergraduates, such as doctors and nurses, were working, – up from almost 83pc.
Employment was lowest among arts and humanities graduates, overall, at 53pc. In any year, many of these go on to further study.
Graduates in the transport and storage sectors reaped the benefits of the heavy reliance on online transactions, with the highest average earnings of €42,015.
Tech graduates fared best financially with the highest proportion on salaries of over €40,000. The average salary for all graduates in March 2021 was €37,104, with younger graduates reporting an average €32,596.
The study also highlights the gender pay gap, as well as the early career earnings advantage enjoyed by those from higher social classes.
HEA Graduate Outcomes, an annual survey of graduates from 23 third-level colleges, received 64,858 responses from both undergraduates and postgraduates.
The comparisons are with the class of 2018, as the survey for the class of 2019 was cancelled with the onset of Covid.
On salaries, the study showed a raw gender gap of €4,740, with males earning an average €39,611 and females an average €35,871. Among younger graduates, this gap was smaller, at €3,106.
As well as gender, there are other factors at play in early career salaries. Affluent graduates were paid, on average, €4,868 more than those from disadvantaged areas.
Leaving Cert performance, which can also be linked to social advantage, plays a role: graduates with over 500 CAO points are best paid. When “like for like” graduates were compared, such as a male and female from similar backgrounds, with the same degree in a similar job, the average €4,740 gap reduced, but was still €2,391.
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the findings gave new insights into the impact of Covid-19 on student employment and further study.
HEA CEO, Dr Alan Wall, said the dataset would help higher education institutions and others in providing students with appropriate career advice.

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