Posted on 10th March, 2021

One in eight graduates unemployed because of the pandemic

Experts warn university leavers taking non-graduate roles could lock people with lower-level qualifications out of the UK labour market

Nearly one in eight graduates was unemployed in the third quarter of 2020 – almost double the average rate for this group over the past three years – according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS data found that while the unemployment rate for all graduates tended to be below the national population, averaging 3 per cent between 2017 and 2020, the rate for recent graduates was more than double, averaging 6.3 per cent over the same period, and peaked at 12 per cent by the third quarter of 2020.

This suggested that recent graduates were one of the groups hardest hit by the pandemic, the ONS said.

The ONS figures found employment rates for recent graduates were still, however, comparatively higher than young people with lower-level qualifications, with the unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds standing at 14.2 per cent and 13.6 per cent in the second and third quarters of 2020 respectively.

It also found that current graduates have benefited from remote working, as more than 70 per cent are employed in occupations that have been able to expand and recruit more graduates, such as associate professional and technical occupations. Additionally, nearly 70 per cent of professional occupations reported working from home, which meant high-skilled workers were able to continue working throughout the crisis, compared to only 5.4 per cent of machine operative professionals able to work from home.


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