Thursday, December 20, 2007

Graduate employment in 2007

Well, since it got practically no press coverage, time to talk a little about 'What Do Graduates Do?'

This is the annual review of the outcomes for last year's graduates, six months after they leave university, and does a valuable service in telling us things like how the graduate employment market looked, distribution of people completing degrees, and whether people are getting jobs - or going onto further study - or not.

2006 graduates actually entered a pretty good job market, with 6% unemployed - a low proportion, in historic terms, and the lowest since 2001 (an anomalous year as it transpired), and about two thirds getting jobs at degree level (the classifications for what actually constitutes a graduate job are currently being re-examined as the labour market is not static).

Since these classifications were only really firmed up in the last few years, there is not a great body of historical evidence for graduate-level job participation, but what we do have suggests that last year was pretty good on that front as well.

There are plenty more details at the site, so take a look if you're interested.

As for the coming year? Well, I am not a big fan of futurology, but I don't expect things to be as favourable for graduates from 2007 or 2008. The graduate employment market is one of the first to be affected by even a small downturn in the economy, and a range of issues, such as the banking problems over the last few months, to concerns over funding cuts for physics and astronomy research (more about that at Exquisite Life), suggests that things may be tougher. But unless we get a full recession in the UK economy, they will not get to serious levels - I would be surprised to see early graduate unemployment climb much above 7%.

If we do get a recession, though, this figure could double - as it did in the early 90s. That doesn't seem to be happening at the moment, though.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

PISA again

Now the data is out properly, more of the press are writing about how we've 'plummeted' in the UK.

Just to recap very quickly, in 2000, PISA measured 43 countries. 31 were tabulated for the science report (27 in the UK-specific report.)

In 2006, PISA assessed 57. They all appear in the data. (And the UK comes third in terms of percentage of kids with the highest level of science skill, which is nice - behind New Zealand and Finland).

How can we 'plummet' when the tables are completely different?

I'll make that point again.

The 2006 data on science attainment contains at least 26 extra countries.

There are some interesting points about science education in the UK-specific report (warning - pdf). Firstly, the UK has a lower than average proportion of 15 year olds with immigrant backgrounds(8.6%, opposed to an OECD average of 9.3%), but that they are more interested in science than are their native peers.

Also, the OECD notes that socio-economic differences account for a higher degree of differences between school performances than the OECD average - 8.6% of the difference between schools is directly related to the backgrounds of the student body as opposed 7.2% on average across the OECD. This is a concern.

We have lower than average students at the bottom end of science knowledge and higher than average at the top, but the OECD feels we could certainly improve - and I think that's an uncontroversial statement.

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edited substantially at 17:30 on 4/12/07 to take account of new published information. Too quick with the first version!