PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Less than half of engineering graduates are working in the industry after graduating, research suggests.
A new study claims that many graduates are choosing to work in other professions or struggling to find jobs in the field.
Employers and industry leaders have repeatedly raised concerns about a lack of good quality science and engineering graduates.
However the new study, by researchers at Birmingham University, claims that there could be too many people studying science, or that graduates are opting for different professions because they do not enjoy the subject.
The report, which is being presented at the British Educational Research Association (BERA) annual conference in London, analysed official figures on the proportions of engineering students entering related jobs, other professions, or work that did not require a degree, in 2009.
The findings suggest that less than half (around 46%) of 2009 engineering graduates were in jobs directly related to their degree subject six months after leaving university. Around one in five (20%) were employed in roles that were not directly related to their degree, and around one in four (24%) were in "non graduate" employment, for example working as waiters or in shops.
The study said: "Perhaps, because of recent initiatives, there seem to be too many people studying science for the labour market to cope with, or perhaps graduates are no longer of sufficient quality.
"It is more likely, however, that all of these scientists are without relevant employment every year because the shortage thesis is wrong and there are no jobs waiting for all of them, or because they are 'dropping out' having learnt that they do not enjoy their subject areas."
Report author Emma Smith said: "It is astonishing, in the light of claims of science graduate shortages, that so few new graduates go into related employment."
She added: "The figures suggest it is not easy or automatic for qualified engineers to get related employment in the UK, despite the purported shortages."