Sporty graduates are demonstrating greater earning potential than their less active peers, according to new research.
A study by British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) has found that graduates who participated in sports at university earn on average £5,824 (18%) more per year than those who didn't.
The study finds that graduates who played sport at university earn an average of £32,552, whilst those who didn't earn an average of £26,728.
More than half (51%) of the graduates asked in the study said involvement in sport helped them develop leadership skills and team work qualities in the workplace.
Of the employers asked, nine in 10 identified a clear link between university sport involvement and desirable skills in an employee.
The study also found that 27% of graduates who didn't participate in sport have had a period of unemployment, compared to 21% of those who did participate.
The study involved 5,838 students and 112 of the UK’s top blue-chip graduate employers and was conducted at the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.
Karen Rothery, Chief Executive of BUCS, said of the findings: "“In a challenging economic climate, employers increasingly require candidates to demonstrate achievements beyond academic ability – key attributes such as team work, communication skills and leadership that can be developed through sport make a student stand out.
“The results of this research are proof positive that sport in higher education provides a recognised and valuable part of the student experience. Involvement in sport makes a real, measurable and positive impact not just on the student experience, but also on life beyond higher education.”
Professor Simon Shibli, co-director of the Sports Industry Research Centre (SIRC) at Sheffield Hallam and one of the lead researchers involved in the study, said: “As the number of graduates increases, students need to do more than pass a degree to get their first job and to sustain their employability. The evidence indicates strongly that in the context of rising fees, engagement in sport is associated with providing a good career return on investment.
“There is also significant evidence from employers that engagement in sport is a recognised strength and a source of differentiation between top quality and average graduates.
However, it's not just about playing sport it’s the involvement in volunteering and management aspects that can provide a competitive advantage in the jobs' market."
Paul Szumilewicz, Director, Retail Banking and Wealth Management at one of the UK’s leading banks, was team captain and secretary of the University of Birmingham's football team when he graduated in 2003.
He says: “Playing sport at any level gives you a great university experience and employers really do view it as demonstrating personal and behavioural capabilities beyond your degree.
“A rounded candidate who shows commitment, academic skills and a wide range of interests is a hugely attractive prospect to an employer, and the attributes gained from participating and volunteering within sport are transferable across many industries.”