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Over Half Of Students Not Confident About Finding Work After Graduating

Entering the world of employment can be challenging for the 14 million-plus graduates gearing up to start their working careers.

With figures showing that graduate starting salaries have remained unchanged for the fifth consecutive year, Fresh Student Living has delved into what those leaving university can expect from the job market, and whether there have been significant changes impacting students and graduates over the years.

Research from YouGov shows that 81% of students admit feeling pressured to find a job within the first six months of graduating, with the top reasons to find a job quickly being:

  • Wanting to earn money or have disposable income (82%)
  • Career aspirations (78%)
  • The belief that job prospects are thin on the ground (45%)
  • The desire to start paying back their student loan (23%)
  • Providing financial support from their family (24%)
Average starting salaries today

It has been revealed that over half (53%) of students are not confident about their job prospects after graduating.

Further research shows that both men and women feel doubtful about their graduate starting salaries, women feel this way more so. While students are seemingly already cynical about their career opportunities and pay, women are pricing themselves almost four grand lower than their male counterparts.

Subjects with The Highest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Chemical Engineering£31,824
Veterinary Medicine£29,224
General Engineering£29,068
Mechanical Engineering£28,236
Subject with The Lowest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Media Studies£18,928
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics£18,304
Drama, Dance & Cinematics£17,940
East & South Asian Studies£17,472
Creative Writing£16,796
Creative Arts & Design£15,184
Salaries for Some of The Most Popular Subjects
SubjectAverage Salary
The Hardest to Fill Roles and Skill Gaps in the UK

Recent Research by Bidwells has revealed that several popular subjects studied by university students have significant skills gaps. This is when graduates are most likely to find employment when they enter the job market, but because of the skills gap, they may have the right qualifications to enter these fields.

Sectors with the biggest skills gaps:
  • Science and Technology: -69.49%
  • Construction: -66.75%
  • Education: -66.51%
  • Health and Social Work: -51.79%
  • Manufacturing: -42.3%

Although there are some industries and sectors who prefer experience to qualifications, bridging courses and online boot camps can assist with closing the gap and enabling more students to successfully find employment after finishing at university.

Best Location for Graduates Seeking Jobs

In 2018, London, the Education Capital of the World, also doubled up as the UK’s biggest hotspot for graduate recruitment; offering just under half of all vacancies based in the UK.

  1. London
  2. South East
  3. West Midlands
  4. North West
  5. Yorkshire and Humberside
  6. South West
  7. Scotland
  8. East Midlands
  9. East of England
  10. North East
  11. Wales
  12. Northern Ireland
BCC and Indeed: Cost and Administrative Burden of Employment Continues to Climb

Business is calling on the next Prime Minister to reduce the unsustainable cost of employing people in the UK.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of firms report the cost burden of employment has increased compared to five years ago, according to new research by the British Chambers of Commerce and global job site Indeed.

New research by BCC and Indeed, based on the responses of over 900 firms from across the country, found a third (33%) say the cost burden of employment has increased significantly.

Firms support the principle of policies such as pensions auto-enrolment, National Living Wage, national insurance contributions, and the Apprenticeship Levy, but they have a cumulative effect of creating a cost burden that is difficult for many to cope with.

Higher costs impact on the business’ bottom line and reduce the resources available to invest in the business and its people. Asked what’s preventing their company from investing more in employee training, over a fifth (22%) blamed other business costs.

Respondents to the survey report they are struggling to absorb the cumulative costs, which are impacting their margins and ability to invest and scale up. Coupled with the scale of other upfront costs, such as business rates, it causes many firms to implement cost reduction measures and weighs down on firms’ ability to invest, hire and grow their business.

Against a backdrop of historically high labour shortages, sluggish economic growth and ongoing Brexit uncertainty, the escalation in employment costs is unsustainable for many firms. As business communities await the announcement of the next Prime Minister, they are calling for urgent action from the new administration to tackle the scale of upfront costs which are hindering competitiveness.

Jane Gratton Head of People Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“The cumulative cost of employment has become unsustainable and the government cannot expect businesses to carry on shouldering this ever-increasing burden. Firms are creaking under the combined strain of wage increases, employment taxes, skills levies and a myriad of administrative and reporting responsibilities, and the costs have not been offset elsewhere.

“At a time of significant change and uncertainty in the economy, firms should be supported to invest in people development and innovation. Instead, this rising cost burden is damaging competitiveness and we risk pricing people out of jobs and driving firms out of business. Many businesses feel there is no recognition from government of the difficulty of juggling all these obligations while trying to operate and make a profit.

“Rising employment costs are just part of the upfront burden on business. Business rates, insurance premium tax and other expenses undermine the competitiveness of the UK as a place to do business. The next government must commit to preventing any additional costs and take immediate action to reduce the burdens crushing our business communities.”

Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at the global job site Indeed, said:

“A tightening labour market, higher costs and political uncertainty have created tough conditions for many businesses.

“A business can only be as successful as the workforce it hires and trains. The fear is that the perception of a rising cost burden will force employers to batten down the hatches and cut investment not only in product development and equipment but in people and training, too.

“It should be noted that not all changes have a negative economic impact and some of the most eye-catching benefit workers. Pension auto-enrolment helps provide workers an element of security for later life and increases to the National Living Wage ensure pay rises for the lowest-paid workers. While many employers support these policies in principle it’s clear from the survey that they are also conscious of their cost.”

Workers’ Rights Body Launched

Workers will be given greater protections as a result of the formation of new body according to the government, but details remain unclear

A consultation on a new single labour market enforcement body has been launched by business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark.

The aim would be to make it easier for employees to seek assistance and information on their rights, as well as offering businesses support on complying with employment law.

Under the proposals the body will have powers to enforce the minimum wage and holiday pay, tackle labour exploitation and modern slavery, and oversee the safeguarding of agency workers.

The consultation will also look at whether the body should enforce rules on harassment and workplace bullying. It will be open for 12 weeks.

Clark also confirmed that Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, has been appointed as the interim director of Labour Market Enforcement.

The introduction of the body is the most recent move in the government’s Good Work Plan, formed in response to the Taylor Review, which focused on a need for a better quality of work, especially for vulnerable workers and those in the gig economy.

Clark said that he hoped the move will benefit both workers and organisations in upholding the law and protecting workers. “We have a labour market that we can be proud of with more people in work than ever. But it’s right that hard-working people see their rights upgraded and are protected from exploitative practices, while ensuring we create a level playing field for the vast majority of businesses who comply with employment laws,” he said.

Susan Clews, chief executive of Acas, welcomed the opportunity to respond to the consultation over the new body: “There’s a recognition by the government that most businesses are following the law on workplace rights but that more needs to be done to help protect the most vulnerable from being exploited,” she said. “Vulnerable workers are entitled to be treated fairly at work in accordance with the law. A strong enforcement arrangement can help ensure this happens by dealing with any abuse of these rights.”

However, several details on the Labour Market Enforcement Body consultation currently remain unclear. Speaking to HR magazine, head of public policy at the CIPD Ben Willmott said that further clarification on the proposals is still needed. “There are still a lot of questions surrounding this. There is huge scope for an enforcement body, and we know that HRMC and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority will both play an important role here, but that’s about as far as it goes,” he said.

“The Equality and Human Rights Commission should also be part of this; to ensure that issues such as harassment and stress are covered as we know these are some of the biggest risks to job quality. There is also a question over whether this needs to be wider. We’re unclear about how much funding will be behind it, and while the focus on compliance with the law is extremely welcome, as we know that small businesses without a people function may particularly struggle in this area, there needs to be an adequate amount of investment.”

Wilmott added that the CIPD will be working closely with its members on the proposals as a new prime minister is appointed next week:

“The CIPD will do an in depth consultation with members. The issue of enforcement is crucial, and we will do everything we can to ensure that the issue of job quality remains a priority and the people agenda is maintained as we see a change in leadership over the Summer.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady criticised the proposals:

“We desperately need government action to tackle the widespread abuse of workers’ rights, such as chasing down £3 billion in unpaid holiday pay that’s owed to workers,” she said.

“But this proposal is a distraction. It risks tying up enforcers in a long merger process while rogue employers are let off the hook. The existing enforcement bodies need to be given a cash boost and further powers so that they can effectively stamp out abuse in the labour market.”

New Masterclass to Prepare Students for Independent Living

New workshops will be available from September to support schools and colleges teach young people about living independently.

Young people will be put through their paces by their college or sixth form to prepare them for independent life after school, the Education Secretary has announced with the launch of new courses today (10 July).

Leapskills workshops, developed by student accommodation provider Unite Students, will offer schools and colleges resources to teach Year 12 and 13 pupils about independent living, managing money and dealing with conflict.


Schools, colleges and sixth forms will be able to put on the optional Leapskills sessions from September, using specialist resources developed by Unite, which cover areas including:

  • Independent living
  • Managing personal finances
  • Developing and maintaining relationships
  • How and where to access support

The sessions act as an innovative digital interactive masterclass to enhance how schools and colleges teach young people about what to expect and how to prepare for the leap of living away from home for the first time.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

For young people leaving school, starting the next chapter of their life should be a positive life-changing experience – but we know that many people struggle with the pressures of moving away from home and living independently for the first time.

A huge part of education is preparing young people for adult life and it is right that we teach them what to expect for life after school, whether that’s at university, work or an apprenticeship.

Whilst the majority of that focus is on the knowledge and skills needed to get qualifications, it is also important that we teach our young people the life skills they need like managing finances and understanding healthy relationships, as well as helping them to build character and resilience to be equipped to cope with the everyday challenges in life.

Unite Students offer schools and colleges free resources for teachers to deliver the Leapskills workshops, which use video content and a digital game to present a number of student life scenarios that simulate shared living, problem solving and conflict resolution.

Across the country, 1000 students have already benefited from the Leapskills workshops through a 18-month trial, with survey feedback showing 96% of students were engaged during the session and 91% of teachers would recommend it to a colleague.

Unite Students CEO Richard Smith said:

Every year we welcome over 50,000 students into their new home as they make the leap to university. For many this is one the most important and exciting moments in their lives but it’s also a time of uncertainty. We see first-hand the challenges they experience as they make this important transition.

We believe that resilience is vital in young people and that given the right opportunities and experiences, young people can build resilience. The better prepared young people are for the transition to university, the easier they will find managing the highs and the lows often involved in this leap.

That’s why we feel so strongly about creating the Leapskills programme and offering it for free to schools across the UK. Building resilience in our young people is crucial to their experience of university and their life beyond. We welcome the Secretary of State’s support for Leapskills and the part we are playing in providing all students with the opportunity to thrive.

Natalie Corriette, a teacher at St Bonaventure’s 6th Form in Forest Gate who took part in the workshop said:

We were keen to offer our Year 12 students this opportunity as students can sometimes feel anxious and unsure about what to expect when living away at university. These sessions afforded them the ability to reflect on university life and to consider how they can best prepare for university life in terms of establishing support networks and fostering social relationships and friendship groups.

Our survey indicated that students’ confidence levels in terms of their knowledge and understanding of university life more than doubled by the end of the session. I would recommend Leapskills to other schools as it really helped to empower the students and allay any concerns they might have about living away from home.

James Appiah, Year 12 student from St Bonaventure’s 6th Form, said:

The Leapskills University Workshop was my first real taste of university life. The tour around the university accommodation and the real life problems we were given to solve helped to make me really feel mentally prepared for university.

Labour Productivity, UK: January to March 2019

Output per hour, output per job and output per worker for the whole economy and a range of industries.

Main Points
  • Labour productivity for Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019, as measured by output per hour, decreased by 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; this was a marginally greater quarter-on-year decrease than the negative 0.1% seen in Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2018.
  • Services recorded labour productivity growth of 0.2% compared with the same quarter in the previous year; in contrast, labour productivity growth fell in manufacturing by 0.9% during the same period.
  • Output per job grew by 0.8% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019 compared with the same quarter in the previous year, as gross value added (GVA) grew faster (1.8%) than the number of jobs over the same period (1.0%).
  • Commentary for unit labour costs are now available in the Unit labour costs bulletin, published on the same day (5 July 2019).

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Portfolio Careers and ‘Side Hustles’

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) recently found that 320,500 self-employed people now have two or more jobs

Does this rise of the ‘slashie’ signal a more creative autonomous way of working, or are multiple jobs a sign that people are struggling to make ends meet? And how should employers respond?

Stephan Gerschewski, lecturer in international business and strategy at Henley Business School University of Reading, says:

“Portfolio careers have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Research from Henley found that one in four employees in the UK have a ‘side hustle’, which is consistent with the IPSE findings. The motives for starting one can be grouped into two broad categories: pay or passion. Read more

Have You Paid the Annual Data Protection Charge?

 Information from HR Revenue & Customs.

All businesses (including sole traders and partnerships) that process personal data are required to pay an annual data protection charge to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) unless a relevant exemption applies.

It is a legal requirement to pay the charge, and failure to do so could result in a fine, but it also makes good business sense as it could have an impact on your business reputation. Once you have paid, your business details are published on the Information Commissioner’s register of data controllers.

There are three levels of charge payable: Read more

To Tackle Our Mental Health Crisis, Career Guidance Could be Surprisingly Important

Being unemployed tends to be bad for your mental health.

We know this from long-term studies which show that people’s mental health often deteriorates when they become unemployed and can improve when they get a new job. It can be a vicious circle, since people with mental health difficulties can also struggle to get hired.

When you don’t have a job, it tends to reduce your access to things that nourish mental well-being: a sense of identity, a sense of purpose, structure to the day, contact with other people and opportunities to use skills. Not to mention money, which is a big source of anxiety if you don’t have a decent supply coming in.

Young people are particularly at risk here, since they tend to be among the hardest hit when the labour market takes a dive. Indeed, it’s hard enough for them to find work when the employment market is buoyant. And this group have more than their fair share of other threats to their mental well-being. They have to deal with the worst of social media, early heartbreaks and combustible friendships. Many will be experimenting with drink and drugs, getting into conflicts with their parents and struggling to have enough money to stand on their own two feet.

In the UK, for example, around one in six people aged 17-19 have some kind of mental health condition, and the incidence among young people more generally has been steadily climbing. In the US, the suicide rate among 18- to 19-year-olds is up 56% in a decade.

Living with the scars

While many big categories of illness, such as cancers or heart problems, tend to present in mid to late adulthood, mental health conditions often appear when people are teenagers or in their early 20s. In many cases, they recur, and the consequences can multiply over someone’s lifetime.

Though most young people experience only passing phases of unemployment, for those who experience longer periods, there is emerging evidence that it can lead to what has been described as “scarring”. They are more likely to struggle to hold down jobs throughout their lives, for instance, and to earn less. There is also recent evidence from Sweden and the US of health effects well into mid-adulthood. From a broader perspective, this is a serious problem for the economy. It means lost productivity, lower tax revenues, and higher sickness-related benefits and medical/social care costs.

If this makes it obvious that we should do whatever we can to minimise youth unemployment, it’s easier said than done. This is a complicated problem that doesn’t lend itself to quick fixes. Yet one area that deserves much more attention is career guidance. People can sometimes be sceptical about its value, based on vague recollections of adolescent conversations with a career adviser that didn’t seem to make much difference to them.

Yet we mustn’t let this blind us to the potential. Like any kind of one-to-one help, career guidance provides a safe space to share worries and concerns. It helps people to review and recognise their strengths, injects hope by giving them a sense of their possible study and work options, and motivates and equips them to take action. Career guidance can help you figure out who you are, what your goals are, and how to get there – and this kind of clarity can act as a buffer against stress and uncertainty.

Above all, career guidance can prevent unemployment. It enables people to access life opportunities in work and education, and opens up all the benefits of participation. Some government initiatives put pressure on unemployed people to take the first available job, irrespective of its quality or relevance to their lives. But career guidance is about long-term planning based on what motivates an individual. Done well, it sets people on a path that can sustain them in the long term.

Room for improvement

The quality of career guidance varies considerably from country to country. Yet a recent OECD study found common problems around the world, including insufficient resources, inadequately prepared staff, and poorer services for students from disadvantaged areas. The study pointed to a number of problems in England, with students demanding “more and better” advice, while concluding that the service in Scotland was “well developed and comprehensive”.

Across the board, there’s much room for improvement. We need to recognise the role that career guidance can play as a public health intervention. It can potentially reach all young people through the school system, and has good access to the most vulnerable groups. It might help build resilience if combined with teaching young people important life skills, such as career management and stress management.

Career guidance may feel far removed from health, but we need to understand that illness has socioeconomic causes, and at least to some extent, socioeconomic remedies. I find that professionals in this field are slowly waking up to the mental health needs of their client base, but this has yet to filter through to many of those in charge of policy. They need to get the message that properly resourced and consistently delivered career services have the power to improve our mental health – both now and for years into the future.

Sector Response to the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding

The independent panel, led by Philip Augar, has published its findings and recommendations for the Government’s reviewImage result for Philip Augar, of post-18 education and funding in England. 

The Augar Review has over 60 recommendations and covers all of HE and FE, both the 50 per cent of young people who do not attend higher education as well as the 50 per cent who do, with the aim of improving opportunity and providing the skills required in a fast-changing economy.

The panel recommends a lifelong learning loan allowance available in modules, an employer-focused suite of higher technical qualifications and free intermediate education for ‘second chance’ adults delivered through a strengthened FE college network.

You can read the full report HERE Read more

UCAS Launches New Adviser Portal as University Applications for 2020 go Live

Teachers and careers advisers have begun using a brand new UCAS portal, transforming the way they manage and track their students’ university and college applications, as the 2020 cycle launches today

The new UCAS adviser portal replaces Apply for Advisers and Adviser Track, giving teachers complete, real-time oversight of their students’ UCAS Undergraduate applications in one place for free.

There are 6,300 UCAS registered centres (mainly schools and colleges) worldwide who will be using the new service. Around two-thirds of the 700,000 undergraduate applications submitted each year are sent through a registered centre. Purchase Order or a correctly authorised contract.