Ciaran Stoker, faculty placement consultant at the University of Exeter, summarises the latest outcomes data for those who studied technology, engineering and maths subjects
The Institution of Engineering and Technology Skills for a Digital Future 2023 survey, in conjunction with YouGov, highlighted findings that half of engineering employers reported issues with skills in the external labour market of technical workers (54%) and their current engineering/technological workforce (47%).1
With the advances of machine learning, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence, the demand for recent data science graduates in particular to fill this substantial gap is going to be as vital as upskilling the existing workforce.2
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What do graduates do? 2023/24
The latest Graduate Outcomes data highlights that STEM graduates were most likely to be in full-time employment after graduation with the highest rates being amongst civil engineers (75.6%), and electrical and electronic engineers (71.2%), both notably above the 59.6% average.
Of the STEM subjects, only maths graduates fell below the fulltime employment average (59%) but this could be explained by the fact that 11.6% of maths graduates had reported moving on to further study - a significant variation from the 7.8% average across all subjects.
Types of work
Unsurprisingly the data showed that the majority of mechanical and electrical engineers were employed in manufacturing with 44% and 41.3% of working graduates reporting employment in this sector. Architecture and building graduates, as well as civil engineering graduates, overwhelmingly operated in the construction, engineering, and R&D sector with 72.5% and 75.6% respectively. By comparison, these two sectors equated for just 7.1% and 8.3% of total graduate employment from all degree subjects.
For computer science graduates, the IT and telecoms sector accounted for 42.7% of employment despite an average of 6% for all employed graduates.
The outcomes data makes clear that STEM graduates are notably more successful than their peers at securing well-paid, degree-related employment.
STEM graduate average salaries (where no significant further study since graduation had been undertaken) were consistently higher than the overall graduate average of £27,383, with chemical engineering and electrical engineering respectively reported at £31,637 and £31,874 on average. Significantly more variation in salaries was reported among computer science and architecture and building graduates, however, with computer science salaries ranging from £24,721 to £35,866 and architecture and building graduate salaries between £23,333 and £29,766.
Average salary where graduates had undertaken significant further study since graduation were marginally lower to those without further study, with the exception of civil and mechanical engineers where it was very marginally higher.
Further study was most common amongst maths graduates (11.6%) and chemical engineering graduates (8.6%). All other STEM subjects reported fewer graduates in further study than the overall average of 7.8%, possibly due to higher employment rates than other disciplines.
The most popular type of further study undertaken by STEM students was a Masters qualification, which was roughly in line with the overall average of 47.2%. Also of note was that all STEM subjects had more than the 18.1% average of further study graduates focusing on a professional qualification, most significantly in computer science with 26.1% and maths with 25.4%.
The outcomes data makes clear that STEM graduates are notably more successful than their peers at securing well-paid, degree-related employment - testimony to the labour market’s stark need for more engineers, technologists, and mathematicians.
What is also striking from the data is the gender disparity in STEM graduates remains huge, with just 5,710 female respondents by contrast to 21,120 male respondents. Addressing the issue of the lack of girls taking up STEM subjects at university is essential to meeting labour market needs.3 It is a challenge that schools, higher education institutions, and employers will all have to work together to tackle.
- IET skills for a digital future survey 2023, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2023.
- Data science skills in the UK workforce, UK Parliament POST, 2023.
- From subject choice to career path: Female STEM graduates in the UK labour market, Oxford Review of Education, 2022.
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