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Choices and Transitions: A
Study of the Graduate Labour
Market in the South West
Policy Issues for the SW Region
Sean Mackney
HERDA-SW Secretariat
• Why are graduates important?
• What policy responses can be made?
• What can the report tell us?
• Five possible areas for action
• Making it happen – next steps
Why Graduates?
• The Knowledge Economy needs knowledge workers
and entrepreneurs
• Projected demand
• +ve impact on productivity, innovation, growth
• Who wants them? – the case for graduate push
• Non-economic benefits: active citizens, better health,
lower domestic violence, less racism
• Value of graduates reflected in premium employers pay
Graduates are generally good news for economy and
Typical Policy Responses
• All regions in UK taking action with graduates
• Five policy lines to pursue
– Increase supply of graduates to meet current and
projected demand
– Market the region to graduates
– Assist in matching supply and demand
– Stimulate employer demand for graduates in priority
– Maximise the value graduates add
• Highlight messages in the study that inform our
understanding of each policy line
What can the report tell us?
• Starting point: We want more graduates – (SW
graduate strategy, RES, FRESA)
• Strong team and methodology:
– Institute of Employment Studies
– Survey of 4000 leavers, 300 graduates, 100 interviews
– Detailed look at secondary data: UCAS, HESA, LFS, New
Earnings Survey, Employers Skill Survey, CSU graduate
salaries and vacancies
Outputs: Full report; Exec. Summary; sector and subregional briefings; institutional reports; raw data
• Everything available via
What can the report tell us (cont.)
Many different stories:
Patterns of application for HE applicants FROM the South West
Student demand for SW HEIs; SW HEI primary competitors; subjects demanded
and places taken up, by institution
Student satisfaction with SW HE experience, by institution, subject, age, ethnic
group, and family experience of HE - a range of institutional services are rated,
with in depth questions asked relating to employability-related activities
Graduating students (2002) career plans, anticipated salaries, intended region for
work, attitudes to businesses by size and by sector and to self employment responses from over 4000 students graduating from SW HEIs.
Detailed information about graduating students perceptions and attitudes towards
the SW region as a place to work and live, comparison with factual information on
living costs by region, reasons for favouring or not favouring SW as region to work
Information on graduating students' views on what support they would welcome
on graduation in relation to professional development and employment
What can the report tell us (cont. 2)
– Graduates in employment (3 years in) perceptions of SW region, career
plans, attitudes to professional development, sectoral base, employment by
– Analysis of SW graduate labour market in terms of proportion of graduates,
earnings comparisons against other regions, proportions employed,
economically active, self-employed, sectoral densities of graduates in
employment, earnings levels over lifetimes
– Recommendations for how to increase the numbers of graduates in the SW.
• Messages for LEAs, LSCs, LLPs, SRPs, REF FSO
groups, HEIs, Employers, Sector groups, RDA, SW
Marketing Team
• Access is available to the original datasets to conduct
more targeted analyses
• The Full Report and datasets warrant detailed study
for many organisations
• Wide dissemination by HERDA-SW with support of
Increase regional supply of
• Widen and increase participation in the SW – an
economic, not just a social agenda
• Expand higher education provision in the SW –
below av. places/head of pop.
• Increase SW applications to SW HEIs
• Offer what graduate leavers demand in a job
– Interesting/challenging; dev. and training; small firm;
• The right HE output?
– 65% SW HE output directly relevant to priority sectors
– 48% work experience built in; 84% work while studying;
1% self-employed.
Market the region to graduates
• What is the SW to UK graduates?
– The playground & retirement home for UK professionals
• Graduate views of the region:
– Great for study; Poor job opportunities; low salary; high
cost of living; poor place to work
– …pretty accurate in many ways
– Career oriented high fliers leave, most don’t even look in
– BUT some positive messages to stress
• Segment market and change perceptions
– SW not seen as ‘the place’ for jobs in priority sectors even
though prospects good in some sectors
– Not just graduate leavers – young, experienced
professionals too
Assist in matching supply and
• Increase the visibility of SW jobs
– Priority sectors
– Especially SMEs with training & development
opportunities (favoured grad. option)
• is key strategic tool;
esp. for returners and small firms
• Getting a ‘graduate job’ is hard work
• Work placements schemes facilitate quality
employment, add value and aid retention
– expand student and graduate schemes with priority
sectors: 0-3yrs after graduation is key
Stimulate employer demand
• Comparatively low levels of demand
– 15% workforce in SW, below nat. average
BUT…20% in priority sectors =Scotland, after SEast (28%) and
London (56%) – good in ICT, Creative Industries and
Engineering & Marine.
– 40% employ new grads from eng., technology, computing,
biological and physical sciences ; 10% creative arts; 13%
business & admin
– 31% skills gaps in management and professional
• Black and Minority Ethnic graduates not fully utilised in SW
• Increasing inward investment increases demand for
• Market the value of graduates to business bottom line,
particularly with smaller firms
Maximise the value graduates
• Under-employment and Graduate Expectations
• Management Development – utilising high level
skills in business + increasing salaries!
• Graduates are ready for work, but prepare late
• A SW Graduate Development Programme
• Facilitate professional networking
• Encourage and support graduate
• Drive up continuing professional development
Making it happen
Next steps:
• Region revises Graduates Strategy and develops
Business Plan for implementation
• A regional champion and strategic agent for this agenda
Questions for the REF:
• Should this strategy and action programme be
incorporated into the FRESA?
• How does the REF wish to see the agenda progressed?
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