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Data digest: January 2020

January 2020

Welcome to Luminate's monthly summary of the key data and developments in higher education, careers services, graduate recruitment and the labour market

This month on Luminate

  • Is the graduate labour market about to collapse? - responding to the media's somewhat panicked reaction to the Institute of Student Employers' (ISE) Pulse Survey, Tristram Hooley, chief research officer at the ISE, provides a balanced and level-headed perspective on the findings. Although the results are gloomier than in previous years - predicting 3% growth in the graduate labour market this year, compared with 10% in 2019 - Tristram argues this should be no cause for alarm. He advises against putting 'too much stock in any one economic indicator'. [Luminate]
  • Closing the gender gap in IT - increasing female participation in the IT industry is challenging as it remains a male-dominated industry. Recent female graduates make up only a fifth of IT professionals in the UK labour market. Facing a mismatch of talent in the UK, employers looking to redress this imbalance come up against barriers that complicate the hiring process. Therefore, it is important for them to be aware of factors affecting the underrepresentation of women in IT (such as lack of role models, and negative perceptions and stereotypes of people who work in the tech sector). Here, industry experts set out what can be done to change things. [Luminate]
  • Understanding the factors that can influence student career decision making - Universities' focus on employability tends to be constructed in relation to the needs of employers to the exclusion of graduates. Looking at the ways in which physics students engage with and make decisions about their graduate employment futures, this research by Sinead D'Silva and Samantha Pugh aims to centre the discussion on the perspective of students. [Luminate]

What's on Charlie's mind?

Graduate labour market expert and Prospects' head of higher education intelligence, Charlie Ball, tells us what's caught his eye this month.

We have both graduate underemployment and graduate shortage in the UK, sometimes even within similar disciplines (IT in particular). There are a lot of simplistic diagnoses around but the true picture is a complex matrix of factors around graduate mobility, the ability of graduates to adapt, the barriers that SMEs face to recruitment, how students and graduates become aware of their options and the choices business make in recruitment. Nobody is to 'blame', but everyone can have a role in improving matters. As we transition to new trading arrangements with the world, the way people are educated and trained in the UK and the difficulties employers experience in finding the right people will become more important.

Read Charlie's predictions for the graduate labour market in 2020.

News in summary

  • Social mobility and higher education: are grammar schools the answer? - eight leading figures in the study of education and social mobility come together to challenge the view that grammar schools have a disproportionate success in getting students from the most under-represented groups to the most selective UK universities. [HEPI]
  • Access to higher education for the most disadvantaged: The government and HE sector should do more - the gap in access between poorer students and their more affluent counterparts remains stark. Researchers have analysed 92 studies providing evidence of the impact of widening participation activities, setting out the gaps in the literature and outlining recommendations for future research. [FE News]
  • Boost for UK science with unlimited visa offer to world's brightest and best - the Global Talent Route visa, a new fast-track visa scheme aimed at attracting the world's top scientists and researchers to the UK, will open on the 20 February. The scheme will have no cap on the number of people who can benefit. [GOV.UK]
  • Drive to widen applicants at universities leads to a sharp increase in dropouts - recent analysis using data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has led some experts to claim that the drive to widen participation at universities has led to a sharp increase in the proportion of students dropping out in two thirds of universities and colleges, with rates rising by more than five percentage points in some cases over the last five years. [The Telegraph]

Data point

In 2018/19, 44% of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health were the result of stress, depression or anxiety. [Health and Safety Executive]

Global outlook

Americans' view of higher education takes a major drop - a recent poll by Gallup revealed that only half of Americans believe a college education is 'very important', down from 70% in 2013. Meanwhile, 13% of adults say that higher education is 'not too important' - more than double the 2013 figure (6%). The decrease in positive perceptions was most noticeable among younger adults (aged 18-29), with a 33 percentage point drop in favourable views of higher education among this group. Consistent with previous findings, women remained more likely to ascribe a high level of importance to a college education than men. [Forbes]

Research from the Luminate library

How should universities teach employability? - universities are under pressure to produce highly skilled graduates that are ready for the graduate labour market. Approaches vary from one institution to another, with many choosing to integrate employability into curricula rather than rely on students voluntarily engaging with a central careers service. However, best practice has yet to be established, and this HECSU-funded research by Helen Standage aims to make some advances in this area.

Download the full report

Different approaches to teaching employability

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Download the full report

Download PDF file Different approaches to teaching employability

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