Facts not Myths

Dr Charlie Ball Head of HE Intelligence Graduate Prospects* spoke recently at an Institute of Student Employers conference. He set about busting some myths around university and the graduate jobs market.


Myth:  “There aren’t any jobs for graduates”

Truth: Actually, for Bath graduates 89% of our employed UK full-time first-degree graduates are in the top three occupational groups compared to 74% of employed graduates nationally – data from HESA Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17

Myth: “If I study <SUBJECT> then I will have to do that as a career.”

Truth: The UK has a particularly flexible skilled jobs market. Dr Ball stresses that the majority of jobs for graduates do not specify a degree discipline and you can get them with any subject, from fine art to physics.

In addition, not taking a vocational degree does NOT mean you won’t get a job! Studying a vocational qualification (e.g. engineering), does not mean you have to follow that vocation.

We have students every year who move in surprising directions, for example a sociology student who is now an accountant or a chemist who is cabin crew for Easyjet.

Myth:  “Graduates only work for big business or on large training schemes”

Truth: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU*.The definition of an SME is one with fewer than 250 staff and a turnover less than €50 million. *(https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition_en)

In 2018, 30% of graduates went to work for SME’s and one in six were with companies with fewer than 50 employees.

  • SMEs are especially important in certain fields such as telecoms, design, architecture, sport/fitness, and web design.
  • The proportion of graduates entering SMEs does seem to be falling, due to competition for scarce talent with larger businesses

Read our Finding a graduate job guide for advice on how to go about searching for a job outside of the main graduate schemes.

If you’re not sure if working for an SME is right for you, take a look at Working for small companies.

Myth: “All the graduate jobs are in London”

Truth:  The facts are that 19.8% of UK graduates live in London. 22.4% of 2016/17 graduates started their career in London. Many of those jobs were confined to a relatively small area of London such as Westminster.

The starting salary for graduates in London was £24,991 compared to £22,399 for UK as a whole. London is the largest and most varied labour market in the UK, BUT most people, (including graduates) never work in London.

Find out what graduates do region by region.


*Data source Dr Charlie Ball https://hecsu.ac.uk/research

Posted in: Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence


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