Outcomes for business and administrative studies graduates were positive, with a third of those in work entering business, HR, and finance roles
- Business and management
- Finance and accountancy
- Hospitality, leisure, tourism, and transport
Number of business and administrative graduates
According to the 2016/17 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE)survey, 43,400 (13.2%) of all UK domiciled first-degree graduates studied business and administrative subjects. This figure shows a 2.4% increase in graduates since 2012/13.
Business and administrative subjects are popular as they combine theoretical content with practical application. The subjects also include a broad range of modules that students can select based on their interests and motivations to reflect their long-term personal and professional development goals. They often incorporate opportunities to study abroad or engage in formal work experience such as a year in industry. All of this makes business and administrative subjects appealing to students, and graduates from these subjects attractive to employers.
A breakdown shows that business and administrative subjects are more popular among males. There were fewer female graduates studying these subjects (46%) compared with the average number of females for all subjects (58%).
Graduates from business and administrative subjects are sought after by employers for graduate training schemes due to the broad knowledge, skills, and expertise developed during their studies. This is reflected in the 2016/17 DLHE data and the percentage of graduates in full-time employment six months after their degree. This ranges from 58% for economics graduates to 70.7% for marketing graduates. These figures are higher than the average of 55.2% for graduates from all subjects in full-time employment.
The graph below shows that business and administrative graduates have a higher than average employment rate overall.
According to the July 2018 report The challenges and opportunities facing the UK's creative businesses commissioned by the Creative Industries Council, which includes the marketing sector, 56% of small creative businesses had grown in the past year. 1 This could account for why a higher percentage of marketing graduates were in full-time employment compared with graduates from other business and administrative subjects, and the reason for 53.6% of marketing graduates having secured roles as marketing, public relations (PR), and sales professionals.
Top five occupations
- Business, HR, and finance
- Marketing, PR, and sales
- Numerical, clerical, and secretarial work
- Retail, catering, and bar staff
The data highlighted that 29.7% of graduates from hospitality, leisure, tourism, and transport were in occupations as marketing, PR, and sales, while graduates from economics (57%), finance and accountancy (61.2%), as well as graduates from business and management (26.4%), gravitated towards roles as business, human resources (HR), and finance professionals.
This could be attributed to a growth within fintech, which according to the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) has grown globally as a sector by more than 75% since 2016.2 One of the key attributes LIBF states as vital for the fintech sector is an analytical mind. This is due to the emphasis on problem solving, the need to demonstrate logical thinking combined with strong numerical skills, and the ability to analyse and interpret data and information. It can be easily argued that an analytical mind is one of the key attributes economics and accounting and finance graduates develop during their degree.
Graduates from these subjects are highly employable because they have developed key skills, attributes, and behaviours valued by employers, such as:
- an ability to gather information, analyse and evaluate it
- critical thinking and self-awareness
- project/time management and organisational skills
- resilience and fostering of a growth mindset
- enterprising skills.
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What do graduates do? 2018/19
Average starting salaries
The average starting salaries for graduates from business and administrative subjects are generally similar. However, the range of top salaries is broad. For example, regional average salaries for accountancy and finance graduates ranged from £16,300 to £28,700. For business and management graduates, starting salaries commenced at £18,000 and reached as high as £26,900, while the salaries for economics graduates ranged from £18,900 to £30,100.
The average salaries for graduates from hospitality, leisure, tourism and transport and marketing do not have the same broad range. They ranged from £17,300 to £21,300 for the former subject area and £18,100 to £23,200 for the latter.
It is also important to bear in mind that location and the occupational sector can influence salaries as the higher graduate salaries are often associated with business, HR, and finance-related roles. The employers offering these salaries tend to be in London where the overall living costs are higher. This trend emerged in The Graduate Market in 2018 report, which stated that investment banks and consultancy firms are offering generous salaries in the region of £40,000.3
The percentages for graduates from business and administrative subjects who were unemployed and due to start work were:
- 5.2% for marketing graduates
- 5.4% for hospitality, leisure, tourism, and transport graduates
- 5.6% for business and management graduates
- 6.1% for finance and accountancy graduates
- 6.3% for economics graduates.
These figures are slightly higher than the average for all graduates who were unemployed and due to start work, which is 5.1%.
According to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2018, in 2017 the recruitment of graduates was lower than expected due to the uncertainties linked to Brexit.4 This was reflected in the overall drop (4.9% in 2017) of graduates hired by employers who feature in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.
It is important to bear in mind that this report only represents a small number of employers who recruit graduates. However, graduates from business and administrative subjects have a tendency to naturally gravitate towards these employers once their programmes of study have finished.
The reduction in the number of graduate hires by The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers could partly explain why the percentages of graduates unemployed (and due to start work) from business and administrative subjects were all higher compared with the average percentage for all graduates who were unemployed for 2016/17.
The number of UK domiciled first-degree graduates engaged in further study has increased from just over 39,000 in 2015/16 to 41,005 in 2016/17. This includes graduates studying for a professional qualification, Masters, or Doctorate.
Among graduates of all subjects who were undertaking further study, the data indicates that 60.5% were studying for a Masters in 2016/17. This is substantially lower than the percentage of graduates from business and administrative subjects studying for a Masters, which ranges from 73.4% for finance and accountancy graduates to 85.6% for economics graduates.
It is still the case today for graduates who want to enter the economics profession and secure a role as an economist that further study is desirable and in some cases highly recommended as the competition for economist roles is tough.5
Of the 560 finance and accountancy graduates engaging in some sort of further study in 2016/17, 11.3% were working towards a professional qualification. This reflects the nature of the work as these occupations require graduates to undertake further professional qualifications such as ICAEW, CIMA, and ACCA. These qualifications often focus on areas such as professional values, ethics, governance, continuing development of technical knowledge and expertise - all of which are essential for today's finance and accountancy professionals.
Technology in the workplace
As demonstrated by the rise of new occupational areas such as fintech, technology plays a vital role in the modern workforce and helps to make working practices more effective and efficient. Despite the benefits technology brings to the workplace, employees seem reluctant to engage with technological developments.
This could be a result of the skills gap highlighted in the government's 2017 Industrial Strategy.6 However, this reluctance only serves to widen skills gaps. One of the key ways to build confident and resilient students and graduates who'll take on new challenges, including those linked to innovative technology, is to give all students, including those who study business and administrative subjects, access to a curriculum that is:
- co-designed and delivered in partnership with employers so that it addresses the skills employers and businesses need
- embeds formal work experience opportunities such as a year in industry and summer placements or multidisciplinary projects
- allows opportunity for reflection and feedback
- champions digital skills so students can engage in the 'fourth industrial revolution'.7
Technology has created opportunities to drive economic growth, but this needs to be underpinned by a university curriculum that supports students and graduates in the acquisition of the right skills.
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What do business and administrative studies graduates do?
Also in this series
- What do graduates do? 2018/19
- Graduate labour market in 2018
- What do creative arts graduates do?
- What do humanities graduates do?
- What do science graduates do?
- What do social science graduates do?
- What do technology, engineering, and maths graduates do?
- Demand for graduates in the midst of Brexit uncertainty: trends to watch in 2019
- The challenges and opportunities facing the UK's creative businesses, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2018.
- Careers in FinTech, London Institute of Banking and Finance, 2017.
- The Graduate Market in 2018, High Fliers, 2018.
- What can you do with an economics degree?, The Times Higher Education, 2017.
- High Fliers, 2018.
- Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 2017.
- What is the fourth industrial revolution?, World Economic Forum, 2018.
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