A University Education is still the best route to finding a job, despite the tough labour market, says the Higher Education Careers Service Unit.

The employment prospects of graduates are “much better than feared”, despite a tough labour market according to a new report commissioned by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit (Hecsu) and the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services. The report provides a detailed look at the paths taken six months after graduation – based on the cohort leaving university in 2011. The report highlights that 62% of university graduates have jobs six months after leaving university and only 9% are unemployed, despite a rising number of graduates and a struggling economy.

It echoes previous studies showing that in the long term, graduates are likely to earn higher incomes than non-graduates and are less likely to face unemployment. In terms of salaries for graduates, the typical range of earnings was between £18,000 and £24,000 for those graduates who had jobs six months after leaving university.

The deputy research director at Hecsu, Charlie Ball, says that in a “difficult jobs market” and a struggling economy “over 166,000 of last year’s graduates were known to be working in the UK six months after leaving university – nearly 8,000 more than the previous year” and that “the figures show that even in difficult times, graduates can and do get jobs.”

The report also highlights how the jobs market is changing – with both higher demand for graduates and also an increase in the number of graduates starting up their own businesses – with a steady upward entrepreneurial trend in self-employment. This is now approaching 5% of university leavers – up from 3% in the middle of the last decade.

In addition the report points to how cuts in public sector spending could be affecting the jobs market, with reductions in the numbers of graduates going into a range of posts in health, education and social services. For more information visit http://www.hecsu.ac.uk/