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

The future of Digital Skills

There is currently a great deal of debate over what digital skills are needed for future jobs.

A new report written by Erika Kispeter about the current and future demand for digital skills at work has just been published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – “What digital skills do workers need to succeed in the workforce in the next ten years”.

Although much of the relevant literature discusses ‘digital skills’, this term is used as a shorthand to mean, among others skills, knowledge, behaviours, attitudes, competencies, capabilities, and character traits. Current frameworks for digital skills include a handful of key areas of skills and competencies, namely Information and data literacy, Digital communication and collaboration, Digital content creation, Digital safety, Digital identity and Awareness of digital rights at different levels of proficiency. Digital skills also include non-technical, so called ‘21st century skills’, which can be grouped under a cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal domain.

While there is a trend to create comprehensive frameworks for digital skills, these attempts to give a general definition of ‘digital skills’ has been criticised. There is a call for more context-specific definitions.

The review has found that it is difficult to establish the boundary between essential and more specialised digital skills for the general workforce and identify a list of digital skills beyond the essential level. Descriptions of digital competence as a ‘T-shaped skill set’, in which individuals possess in depth knowledge in one area and good knowledge across many other areas may be useful here.

The future demand for general digital skills points at 21st century skills, especially interpersonal skills and cognitive competencies and learning strategies. It is argued that occupations where workers use digital skills creatively and to solve problems are likely to grow, while occupation where digital skills are used for routine tasks are likely to decline.

The drivers of change are suggested to be the effect of automation on future occupations, but there is much debate as to whether jobs will be fully automated or whether there will be a major change in task composition.

the report can be downloaded from the UK Government publications website.

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

Skills for Green Jobs


Addressing climate change and setting economies and societies more firmly onto a path towards a sustainable, low-carbon future is one of the defining challenges of our time. Such shift will entail far-reaching transformations of our economies, changing the ways we consume and produce, shifting energy sources, and leveraging new technologies.

The European Centre for Vocational Education and Training, Cedefop, has released a new report on Skills for Green Jobs. The report is based on country studies undertaken in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in six countries (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Spain, France and the UK) since 2010.

A key outcome, says CEDEFOP, is that countries vary in their approach to defining, classifying and collecting data on green jobs and skills. However, they have observed increased efforts are observed on data collection on developments in the ‘green economy’.

Since 2010, green employment trends have tended to parallel general economic trends. Carbon reduction targets and associated incentives and subsidies have been especially influential on green jobs and skills; other green policies, such as legislation to protect the environment, have also been important.

Although few countries have a strategy on skills for green jobs, “the updating of qualifications and VET programmes has soared, reflecting increased demand for green jobs and skills since 2010.” Updates mainly concern adding ‘green’ components to existing qualifications/programmes, since changes in skill demands are perceived more pertinent to including new green skills within existing occupations rather than the creation of new green ones.

 

More information is available in the CEDEFOP magazine promoting learning for work, Skillset and Match.

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.