What is a graduate-level job, and how much should graduates expect to be paid?

What is a graduate-level job, and how much should graduates expect to be paid? This was the theme of a talk that Daria Luchinskaya to undergraduate students at the University of Warwick as part of an event focusing on career planning, ‘Scholars’ Personal and Professional Development Day: Forward Thinking’, held earlier this year.

The event was aimed at undergraduates in different stages of their degree, from across the University. Students attended a mix of interactive sessions and presentations, including how to make the most of careers fairs, writing an ‘elevator pitch’, the role of extracurricular activities. The aim of the event was to offer students, especially those from widening participation backgrounds, information about career development that students from more privileged backgrounds often take for granted.

Daria’s presentation focused on three main points – what do graduates do, how can we say what is or isn’t a graduate-level job, and where we might find out information about earnings. Different sources of data were highlighted throughout the presentation. Using ‘What do graduates do?’ data from Prospects, we looked at the breakdown of the most frequently held types of job six months after graduation. The top three destinations were health professionals (of graduates in employment, around 20 per cent worked in these roles), business, human resources and finance professionals (20%), and retail, catering, waiting and bar work roles (10%).

But how can we distinguish between what is an is not a graduate job? A graduate scheme might come to mind, but these are just one type of graduate jobs. We might think about the skills and knowledge used at work. Indeed, the ONS measure of graduate jobs uses a definition developed by Professors Peter Elias and Kate Purcell at the IER, which emphasizes that graduate jobs “normally require knowledge and skills developed on a three-year university degree to enable [job holders] to perform the associated tasks competently”. Based on this definition, 100% of the SOC 2010 professional occupations are classified as ‘graduate-level’, followed by three quarters of managers, director and senior officials, and around half of associate professional occupations. None of the retail jobs is classified as graduate-level, however. Thinking about the use of knowledge and skills at work provides a more nuanced definition of graduate jobs than the ‘high-skilled work’ definition, which applies to all managerial, professional, and associate professional occupations.

Last, we might consider what is an appropriate graduate-level salary. Students were invited to shout out their guesses – these ranged considerably, but were not far off the ballpark (inasmuch as a ballpark can be said to exist). Estimates circulated in the media range between £28,000-30,000 per year (e.g. supported by figures from High Fliers and the Institute of Student Employers, but these tend to be geared towards large companies that tend to run graduate schemes) to £19,000-22,0000 per year (supported by DLHE data and graduate-jobs.com). Pay also tends to vary by location – Daria asked the students to guess the regions for the top and bottom starting salaries in UK regions. The top one was London, at almost £25,000 (easy!), and the bottom? Wales, at £20,600, narrowly behind Northern Ireland. Graduate salaries also vary quite widely by industry, so it may help to have an idea of industry norms. The presentation suggested useful links for further information.

To show some of the rich data available, Daria demonstrated the LMI for All Careerometer widget, that was very popular with the students and with the Careers Services facilitating staff. The students offered suggestions for jobs to explore (careers adviser was one of the suggestions – there was a good sense of humour in the room), and Daria showed how different aspects of different jobs could be compared, in terms of pay, number of hours worked, and future trends. Students thought that the widget was very useful because it offered a range of information and it was easy to do an ‘at a glance comparison’.

Overall, the event was very successful, and the students though that it was very useful. The data capabilities of LMI for All are clearly well appreciated, and there is demonstrable appetite for similar, easy-to-use comprehensive information about jobs and future trends.

D Luchinskaya

Blog post written by Dr Daria Luchinskaya now working at the University of Strathclyde.

 

 

 

 

Further reading

Department for Education LMI workshop

Earlier this year, sixteen experts in the field of careers and developers of digital careers tools attended a labour market information (LMI) workshop, hosted by the Department for Education (DfE).

The aims of the workshop were to:

  • Inform and update delegates about the LMI for All service.
  • Provide a forum for careers experts and developers to share their views and experience.
  • Encourage the development of user-friendly careers tools, which can be used in a tailored way with people who are less confident using digital tools.
  • Explore how the LMI for All service and DfE could better support the needs of current and prospective developers.
Photograph of LMI workshop

The workshop started with Sally-Anne Barnes and Jenny Bimrose from the Institute for Employment Research (IER) at the University of Warwick giving a presentation about the LMI for All service. They explained the role of LMI in careers education and guidance before providing an overview of LMI for All. For all delegates, this was an opportunity to find out about the datasets which are used and upcoming activities. After a question and answer session, delegates discussed how they currently use LMI and how they could start or continue to use LMI for All.

After lunch, Rebecca Towner, Medway Youth Trust spoke passionately about the careers information that students are accessing, the issues they face and what changes can be made to meet their needs. From further discussions after the talk, the group agreed that careers tools should provide real life examples and context, whilst having a clear audience and encourage exploration. The group also agreed developers should be aware of avoiding confusing language and of creating online only resources, as this may limit who can use the tools.

Delegates provided useful feedback about how LMI for All and DfE can better support them to develop and use high-quality careers information tools. The feedback given at the workshop has been used to inform the re-design of the new LMI for All website to make it as accessible and user-friendly as possible and improve IER’s stakeholder engagement.

Photograph of Amy Hams

Blog post written by Amy Hams from the Careers Policy Unit, Department for Education

Influences of the changing nature, and integration of LMI into career practice

Photo of Jenny Bimrose at NICEC conference 2019

Jenny Bimrose presented at the NICEC international conference (Changing boundaries: career, identity, and self. An international conference on research, practice and policy in career development) on 16 April, 2019 on LMI for All. The presentation examined the integration of labour market information (LMI) with information communications technology (ICT) as a case study of the changing professional identity of career practitioners. It focused on the way that career practitioners, like their clients, operate in increasingly volatile and pressurised work environments, with many now required to work differently in ways that require shifts, sometimes dramatic, in their professional or occupational identity, for example, the integration of labour market information (LMI) through the use of technology, into their core practice. Like their clients, they have to construct their own meaning of work to survive and thrive, with proactivity and adaptivity crucial for navigating their own increasingly complex and challenging pathways. Developments in thinking about identity development at work (Brown & Bimrose, 2015; 2018) led to the idea that learning at work can be effectively supported if it is understood that such learning can be represented as a process of identity development. Drawing on two major IER research studies (LMI for All and EmployID), this workshop focused on the influences of the changing nature, and integration of LMI into career practice through the use of ICT, on the professional identity transformation of career practitioners.

A poster relating to the development of LMI for All was displayed throughout the conference.

References

Brown A., & Bimrose J. (2018). Learning and Identity Development at Work. In: Milana M., Webb S., Holford J., Waller R., Jarvis P. (eds) The Palgrave International Handbook on Adult and Lifelong Education and Learning. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Brown, A., & Bimrose, J. (2015). Identity development. In P.J.Hartung, M.L.Savickas, & W.B.Walsh (Eds.) APA handbook of career intervention, Volume 2: Applications (pp. 241-254). Washington, DC: APA.

What is replacement demand?

Ever wondered what replacement demand is and why you need to know about it ?

Replacement demand is an important part of determining what employment opportunities there may be in the labour market. For those working in careers and the education sector knowing about replacement demand and understanding what opportunities may be available in the future helps with career planning. The recent careers speech by the Robert Halfon, the Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, spoke about the important of meeting the needs of a skills economy:

“We need people of all ages, and those who advise them, to really understand what opportunities are on offer. I want those undertaking apprenticeships or courses in further education to get the same level of information and support to make confident and informed choices when selecting and applying for courses.
We want to ensure that those applying for further education have clear information and support through the process of searching for, choosing and then applying for a particular opportunity. In particular, we want to ensure that they are supported in the same way that higher education applicants are supported through the straightforward and well-understood UCAS system.”

Employment projections are an important to understanding the needs of the economy. These projections are available through LMI for All and are part of the Working Futures dataset.

Employment projections help us understand how levels of employment in an occupation or sector may change over time. These projections are made up by expansion demand (or growth) and replacement demand. Expansion demand is the number of job openings as a result of growth in the sector or occupation. Whilst, replacement demand is the number of openings created by people leaving the labour market on a temporary basis (such as maternity leave or sickness) and those retiring or dying. It is difficult to estimate the number of people who may leave an occupation on an annual basis , as, for example, people retire at different ages. So the replacement demand is often presented over an extended period of time, such as ten years, to provide a projected trend.

As part of the Working Futures projections both expansion and replacement demand are provided as well as the total number of people needed in the occupation (called net requirement). If you want an example of how to use replacement demand and expansion demand data you can get from LMI for Al,l then check out our free widget, Careerometer.

How is careers labour market information and intelligence being used and making an impact across the world?

It is widely accepted that careers labour market information and intelligence is central to the delivery of good careers guidance practice. With more data becoming available and advances in technology, it is possible to create linkages between data to provide more powerful careers information. How careers information and intelligence is made available, linked and used varies greatly by country, but there are interesting international examples available from which to learn. These examples and the evidence of their impact was discussed at a recent symposium organised by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) held in Ottawa, Canada , in July 2016. The aim of the symposium was to discuss evidence from a recent international literature review of data linkage initiatives and share learning. LMI for All was identified as one of three innovative approaches, along with the US College Scorecard, and New Zealand’s Integrated Datasets. The findings showed that each of these international exemplars provide highly innovative approaches to improving access to accurate, reliable, and timely learning information and labour market information (LMI).

The US College Scorecard is a web-based tool to provide information on the costs and financial returns of post-secondary education (For more information see the latest report and Scorecard data documentation). It was developed by the US federal Department of Education. Behind the tool is a database comprising linked student-level administrative data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and graduate earnings information from tax records maintained by the Treasury Department. It is an interesting approach to providing data on career pathways.

New Zealand’s Integrated Datasets has been in operation since the 1990s. The New Zealand government has worked to integrate existing datasets from multiple government departments into a single, individual-level dataset. Policy and legislative frameworks were put in place to protect the privacy of its citizens while encouraging greater data sharing between government departments and agencies. The most exhaustive example can be used to analyse labour market outcomes of post-secondary education graduates, their student loan repayment rates, their migration out of the country, and other social and economic factors.

The US and New Zealand approaches share a common methodology of integrating survey and administrative datasets by linking individual-level data. These include individual education programme selections and outcomes (e.g. graduation rates), income tax data, student loan repayments, and in the New Zealand, labour market participation information to capture the true costs and returns of post-secondary education. Like the other two initiatives, LMI for All combines data from various sources, but is based on a different methodology. It does not link individual-level data, but integrates a wide range of existing national sources of data to provide LMI in a single source.

The three initiatives demonstrate the richness of information that can be produced by combining information and data from existing sources. In the UK, the Building out Industrial Strategy Green Paper (2017) discusses the role of LMI in high quality careers advice:

“…. we need to do more to empower students, parents and employers to make confident and informed choices about their education and careers options, whether they are in schools, technical education or higher education. The quality of careers advice is a particular issue for disadvantaged students who lack the social capital to get advice or work experience opportunities via family members.”

This highlights the importance of access to accurate, reliable, and timely labour market information and learning information. It has a number of important consequences for a variety of stakeholders. From a user’s perspective, this can help students and their families make informed choices about learning and work pathways and understand the labour market demands and outcomes related to their choices. For governments, data linkage and labour market online developments provide new and exciting opportunities to better understand career trajectories now and in the future.

Deirdre Hughes, Jenny Bimrose & Sally-Anne Barnes

Warwick Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick