Latest government figures show employment levels at 17 year low

Unemployment rates among construction graduates are running at their highest for 17 years according to figures released today.

The Higher Education Careers Services Unit (Hescu) surveyed 21,020 students who graduated last year and found the percentage out of work in January this year had risen to 8.9% - the worst figure since 1993.

Construction was among the hardest hit sectors with a jobless rate of 10.9% for architecture and building graduates, 11.8% for mechanical engineering and 11.9% for civil engineering.

Charlie Ball, deputy research director at Hecsu, said job prospects were looking better for next year: “Graduate unemployment hasn’t risen as high as we feared and is some way off the levels of the last recession in 1992, when it reached 11.6%.

“Prospects for graduates in the short term look brighter, with unemployment as a result of the downturn likely to have peaked. However, with the anticipated public-sector job cuts, the future in the medium term looks less clear.”

The average salary for new graduates rose marginally to £19,695. The lowest average starting salary was £14,625, while graduates who studied Chinese reported the highest starting salary of £24,540.