UK graduates fail to land grad-level jobs after finishing university

Research among 2,000 UK adults reveals that the country’s university system is failing both students and businesses.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of university graduates in Britain regret the time and money they spent on their degree – equating to 5.6 million people across the country. With the average UK graduate entering the working world with £44,000 worth of university debt, new research by Intern Tech unveils that large proportions of the country’s graduates have been let down by their university education.

Based on a nationally representative survey of 2,000 UK adults, Intern Tech’s study finds that 28 per cent of British graduates believe their university education was outdated, which has resulted in a mass struggle to secure suitable jobs. More than two fifths (41 per cent) of degree holders have had to take an entry-level job below graduate level once they left university – this figure rises to 51 per cent among graduates aged under 34.

Almost half (45 per cent) of graduates – the equivalent of 9.7 million people – praised the role of internships in their professional life, saying that work placements have proven more valuable to them in their career than their university degree.

Furthermore, 35 per cent of graduates revealed that they have had to pay to do further qualifications to get the skills they need to pursue their desired job despite having gone through a university education.

One of the main areas for concern was in the lack of knowledge and understanding surrounding the UK’s in-demand technology jobs. When presented with a list of the country’s most sought after roles in the tech industry – including data scientist, social media manager, app developer and cyber security specialist – a massive 48 per cent of graduates said they do not know what these jobs entail or how they would secure one.

The concerning findings comes as 93 per cent of firms in the UK’s rapidly-growing tech sector say that a shortage of skilled workers is holding their business back.

Intern Tech’s research also uncovers some that 30 per cent of UK degree holders think the country’s departure from the European Union will be good for their job prospects. The graduates pinpointed less competition from overseas professionals as a result of Brexit as a positive influence on the job market.

Aaron Wilson, managing director of Intern Tech, says, ‘The research has illustrated that universities are failing to equip graduates with the skills and experience they need in the professional world.

‘Consequently, a huge number of degree holders in the UK are left regretting the debt they have been burdened with from university as they are still forced to take jobs below graduate-level or have to complete further qualifications to get ahead. Meanwhile, the country’s innovative high-growth companies are being held back by an inability to find the skilled workers they need – clearly something must be done.’

Wilson adds, ‘In the Spring Budget the government signalled its intent to address the skills gap through T-level qualifications and additional funding for STEM subjects. However, today’s survey underpins the immense value of internships, which must be encouraged – they provide young people with vital insight and experience into the jobs and industries they wish to work in.

‘With university education criticised for being outdated, it is essential that students and graduates are encouraged to get hands-on work experience, in turn enabling companies to find potential employees with the culture, attitude and core skills they require.’

Further reading on graduates

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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