All 5 entries tagged Graduate Labour Market

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May 23, 2013

Is It Better to Work for a Large or Small Company?

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A Lifehacker reader asks: Is it better to work for a large or small company? It was so exciting to see what is sort-of-almost like my research question discussed on the Internet that I felt compelled to blog about it. It's an interesting issue to consider as over a third of graduates work in small or a medium-sized business.

HECSU blog - graduate employment by business size
Source: HECSU Blog

Lifehacker's advice highlights some of the pros and cons for each, summarised below.

The large companies have structure, perks and internal career development going for them, but the downsides include a slow pace of change, not knowing all the staff, and being stuck in a team of depressing people. Lifehacker acknowledges that this last point can occur in any company, but maintains that it can be more damaging in a large one.

On the other hand, in smaller companies your success can be more visible, they are more flexible, and you are likely to do a variety of tasks. The flip side is that your failure is also visible, the perks are smaller, and there may be no clear way of dealing with complaints.

I thought that this was quite an interesting question, because it assumes that size affects how people work. But is it all a matter of size? Some of the comments point out that how well a company is doing and what the managers are like also affect work. It's quite interesting to read the discussions and the readers' own experiences, which elaborate on some of the points in detail.

Without wanting to jump too far ahead of my own research, similar themes are emerging from interviews with Futuretrack graduates, and I am looking forward to analysing the data.

Have you worked in a small or a large company? What have your experiences been like? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

October 19, 2012

Universities and Employability: The power of PR

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Over the past few weeks in my literature search the notions of university engagement with employability and the importance of PR and marketing in recruitment cropped up here and there (specifically in this 2002 esru report by Purcell et al).

Just today I noticed a poster which nicely illustrated how universities can combine PR with graduate employability.


It's part of a campaign by Aston University to show that their graduates are attractive to employers. This campaign is interesting in several respects.

Firstly, it is an example of how some universities, competing for students who are in turn selecting HEIs on the basis of the return (salaries) on their investment (£9000 per year in tuition costs and additional living expenses*), respond to the current HE and labour market climate. Secondly, it is also an example of how universities are justifying the costs of HE to potential students and to their families, tapping into the ‘successful graduate job’ mantra. And thirdly, it is especially interesting from the perspective of gender representation in media and advertising.

One of the aspects of the poster which struck me in the thirty seconds of a train stop at Banbury station was the depiction of a male graduate as parody of a model photoshoot, as well as a slight association with Fructis, a (popular?) hair product in the 1990s. In an advertising culture saturated with suggestive images, mostly of women, it is refreshing to see such explicit parodies. To use analytical jargon, it’s a bit lol.

Upon further googling I found a few more posters:


The juxtaposition of these images of graduate employees in professional jobs (suggested by the shirt and tie attire) with 'attractive' for employers in the context of parodies of adverts with suggestive sexual imagery (hot under the collar, suggestive eyebrow, obvious wind machine etc) implies that while sex sells, lol also sells.

These posters are in vogue with the current age of parody on the Internet, evident in memes and viral content, encouraged by the ease with which texts (in the broadest sense, including images, sound etc) can be cut up and repackaged to create new meanings.

Finally, using parody for photos of male and female graduates as part of the campaign is definitely a step towards equality in media representations of gender, at least in some sense of the term.

*Yes, it isn't paid upfront, and yes, the story is a bit more complicated.

April 24, 2012

What do graduates do in small businesses?

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I have a short article in the Spring 2012 issue of Graduate Market Trends reviewing what graduates do in small businesses based on Stage 4 data of the Futuretrack 2005 pilot study.

These initial findings from the Futuretrack 2005 (FT05) Stage 4 survey should be used and interpreted with caution, as the dataset does not have enough observations on which to perform robust statistical analysis. However, this taken into consideration, my analysis very broadly implies that, despite the variation within SMEs, those FT05 graduates employed in SMEs were more likely to report being satisfied with their job than those in larger businesses, particularly with the opportunity to use their own initiative, the relationship with their superiors and with the type of job they actually do. FT05 graduates working in SMEs were also less likely to say that they never used particular skills as part of their job. This raises some interesting questions about what causes these differences and how they vary between SME sizes and across sectors.

I welcome your comments and feedback on this article or graduate skills more broadly. You can email me at d.luchinskaya at or leave a comment here on this blog. Please note that all comments left on the blog are public.


The first-degree graduates in the article are those who said "I completed an undergraduate course and I am no longer a full-time student" in the FT05 survey (n = 186). This excludes people who are currently full-time undergraduate or postgraduate students, and those who have completed an undergraduate and postgraduate courses. When crosstabbed with current main activity, 7 of the 186 were studying in either postgraduate or undergraduate education. I recoded the variable to correct for this, and so the number of first-degree graduates who are no longer full-time students is 179. Of those, 155 were in employment.

The left-hand title on Figure 2 should read ‘SME (0-249 employees)' (p. 16).

The text under the graphs on Figure 2 should read 'In which of the following sectors is your current main employer?' (p. 16).

May 18, 2011

The jobs graduates want most!

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"Students have made a record number of applications for graduate jobs this year, with almost two-fifths applying early to beat the rush, a new report suggests."

Without going into the gendered aspects of the pictoral representations, we can see that the most popular jobs graduates aspire to are: Media, Teaching and Marketing, etc etc. It's reassuring to see the Charity sector up there.

The study is actually a survey by 'High Fliers' (here is their press release, the study itself is not available to non-subscribers).

But: what do High Fliers mean by 'Graduate Jobs'?

April 14, 2011

ONS on the graduate labour market

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It's great that the ONS is getting videos explaining their statistics out into the e-world.

Two videos in particular are quite interesting.

The first is about the impact of the recession on recent graduates in the UK: 26 Jan 2011)

Recent graduates are more likely to be unemployed compared to the UK as a whole and to those who graduated 2-4 and 4-6 years ago. This reflects that those who graduated longer ago are more likely to be in jobs, whereas recent graduates are entering a weakened labour market.

When recent graduates are compared to young people of the same age (21-24) without a degree, unemployment rate during the recession was higher for those without a degree, but increased at a slightly slower rate than for recent graduates. Again, this may reflect that graduates are just entering the labour market, while non-graduates are more likely to have already been employed in a job.

Young people no longer in education aged 18-20 and 16-17 have much higher unemployment rates than 21-24 year olds, and the increase in their unemployment rates is much steeper. Almost 1 in 2 of young people aged 16-17 no longer in education and looking and available for work cannot get any employment.

The figures suggest that when the labour market recovers, new graduate unemployment should recede. But graduates who have become 'long-term unemployed', out of work for 12 months or more, may find it more difficult to get jobs because of knock-on effects (e.g. loss of confidence, competing against newer graduates and people in short-to-medium term unemployment, wearing away of skills etc.)

The second video is about graduate earnings in the UK over the last 10 years 6th April 2011)

This video is mainly about earnings differences by gender, with or without a degree, and is less clear and helpful than the information about graduate unemployment. The presentation does not answer how the graduate earning premuim has changed over the decade (instead, it averages the earnings over the decade), or what it is like if we compare male and female engineering graduates without children, for instance. Granted, it's a podcast, but it could have been more about the change in graduate earnings over time rather than going into gender pay diffferences at a surface level.

What it does say, is that the average (median) graduate earnings premium over the last 10 years was about £12 000, and graduate men earned more than graduate women (also true for non-graduates). This was explained in part by men and women studying different subjects, which are linked to different industries, and have different average earnings.

  • 34% of female graduates have a degree in health related studies or education, compared to 9% of male graduates (roughly 3.5 times as many).
  • 47% of male graduates have a degree is business, finance, sciences or engineering, compared to 20% of women (roughly 2.5 times as many).
  • Over the last decade, average earnings in public administration, education and health were £27 600, compared to £37 300 in banking and finance.

Additional explanations include women being more likely than men to leave the labour market when starting a family, and the discontinuity in the earnings growth being difficult to eliminate if women do return to the labour market after having children. Also, even within female dominated industries, women are underrepresented at more senior levels associated with the highest salaries in the sector.

Moreover, why is there such a large pay difference between industry sectors such as banking and finance on the one hand, and education and health on the other? Compensation payments and human capital differentials aside, a couple of interesting answers are unmeasured differences between individuals, and the profitability of firms within industries (rent-sharing). [Here is an interesting working paper about industry wage differentials in Belgium, by Plasman, Rycx and Tojerow (2006):].

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