THE BLOG

What Do Graduates Do - And Where Do They Do It?

18/04/2013 13:42 BST | Updated 18/06/2013 10:12 BST

For the spring edition of Graduate Market Trends I've been looking back at HESA Destination of Leavers of Higher Education surveys for the last five years and it's revealed some interesting insight into where graduates have actually been finding jobs.

London has been consistently the most common first employment destination for new graduates, but had seen a relative decline in share of employment before the recession. Since then the capital's share has increased and continues to rise. Scotland, by contrast, has experienced a year-on-year fall while the East of England has seen steady rises in the share of new graduates for the last five years.

Not all jobs are found equally spread across all parts of the UK, and students who aspire to work in particular regions need to work closely with well-connected local careers services to ensure that they don't have unrealistic expectation of the kind of work that is available locally.

For example, two thirds of financial analysts began their career in London, only South-East England and Scotland saw more than one in twenty financial analysis jobs.

Conversely marketing and advertising executives had a less concentrated jobs market with 38% based in London, one in ten employed in the North West, and Surrey, Merseyside, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Manchester all provided at least 40 jobs. Mechanical engineers were also spread across the UK with less concentration in London, so graduates entering this field should expect to work away from more conventional graduate job hotspots.

The jobs market for software engineers is interesting, and quite unusual. Almost one in four started their career in London and another 16% in the South East, but the most common city outside London for this group to start work was Belfast and they were almost all from Northern Irish institutions and they had found out about jobs through careers service. So, although there appears to have been a reasonable jobs market for software engineers in Belfast, in practise, it is probably less accessible to graduates who are not educated locally.

Pharmacy is another profession where careers services are rather more likely than average to be cited by graduates as the place where they found out about the job, and this may help graduates to find roles throughout the country. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Belfast, Leeds, Hertfordshire, Essex, Lancashire, Newcastle and Kent were all popular places for these pharmacists to find work last year.

Overall, there are a lot of good jobs outside the capital, but London is the only place where you can get a job in pretty much anything available to graduates. The jobs market in places like Manchester and Edinburgh is diverse, but the range and volume of roles is much smaller.

A lot of graduates struggle to find work because they limit themselves by looking for a particular kind of job in a certain part of the country. Unfortunately, our jobs market often doesn't work like that. So, if you're sure you want to do a particular job, make sure you know where those jobs are to reduce the chance of aiming for something that simply isn't there.