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Graduates seek nursing careers during economic downturn

The effects of the recession can be seen as early as the beginning of 2008, as nursing enjoys the highest increase in graduate intakes and the finance sector experiences a year-on-year drop, according to a study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

The survey of 209,120 first degree students tracked their career destinations six months after graduating in 2007, providing a valuable insight into the graduate employment market.  Headline findings include:

  • Graduates going into nursing has seen the highest increase in numbers (1,280 more graduates since 2004, a 43.7% rise).
  • Only 0.2% of medicine graduates and 1.7% of nursing graduates were still looking for a job six months after graduation.
  • More graduates have entered into the health professions in general (increased by over 500 graduates in 2007), including nurses and physiotherapists (however, non-hospital nurses have seen a year-on-year fall in numbers).
  • Health professionals, including doctors, dentists, psychologists and pharmacists, commanded the second highest average salary at £24,968.
  • Graduates entering the finance sector dropped by 2.7% following a 1.1% increase in 2005/06.

Mike Hill, Chief Executive of HECSU comments: “Whilst it’s too early to track the impact of the economic downturn on the latest set of graduates going into employment, this data starts to gives us some indication of the jobs that are most likely to be affected and those that should ride the storm. The good news is that we can see significant gains across diverse professions such as nursing and social work, demonstrating the value and opportunities a degree continues to present.”

The research is published in collaboration with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and UCAS. Margaret Dane, Chief Executive of AGCAS, adds: “A tougher job market makes it even more important for students to start planning ahead early in their courses. This study provides a valuable overview of the options available with different degrees and early contact with their careers service will provide ideas and contacts for work experience.”

The data, collected via the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, is a snapshot of what those who graduated in 2007 were doing in January 2008. It aims to provide a guide for students, parents and careers advisors on the potential initial employment prospects provided by different degree subjects.

Higher Education Careers Services Unit