» Computer scientists snapped up for jobs while arts graduates struggle
Only a third of humanities graduates in jobs felt their education was relevant
Mon, Dec 22, 2014
Computer science students are most likely to be snapped up by employers after graduation, and also to earn more, the Higher Education Authority’s annual survey of graduate prospects shows. Some 77 per cent of computer science graduates with an honours bachelor (level 8) degree last year were in employment nine months after graduation. This success rate was followed by education at 76 per cent, and health and welfare at 73 per cent. In contrast, just 36 per cent of graduates in arts and humanities were in employment. Half of this cohort were engaged in further studies or training.
A more worrying feature of the survey What do Graduates Do? The Class of 2013 was the fact that those graduates in arts and humanities who did find employment placed little value on the relevance of their degrees. Just 32 per cent said their education was relevant or most relevant to their employment, while 49 per cent said it was irrelevant or most irrelevant. In contrast, 74 per cent of computer science graduates in employment, and 84 per cent of working graduates in agriculture and veterinary as well as health and welfare, said their education was relevant or most relevant to their employment. Graduates at postgraduate diploma level in arts and humanities reported a similar viewpoint on the relevance of their education to employment but there was a shift at masters or doctorate level. Some 51 per cent of such graduates who had found employment said their qualification was relevant or most relevant while 26 per cent said it was irrelevant or most irrelevant.
Starting salaries among arts and humanities graduates were also lowest, with 27 per cent of those in employment nine months after graduating with a primary degree earning less than €13,000. In contrast, just 9 per cent earned more than €29,000. Some 40 per cent of science and business graduates in employment had a starting salary of more than €29,000. This rose to 42 per cent in health and welfare and 63 per cent in computer science. The employment rate among graduates with masters and PhDs continues to outstrip those with lower qualifications, standing at 73 per cent last year compared to 63 per cent in 2008. The higher qualification also brought higher earning power, with more than 60 per cent of PhD graduates reporting earning more than €45,000 nine months after graduation. This compared to 3 per cent of honours bachelor degree graduates. The study also showed that female graduates from level 8 courses were more likely than male graduates to be in employment but they were also more likely to earn lower initial salaries. In addition, women were more likely to emigrate to find work – with an overseas employment rate of 13 per cent among level 8 graduates compared to 11 per cent among men. Across both genders, the proportion said to be “seeking employment” dropped from 7 per cent to 6 per cent at level 8 and from 13 per cent to 11 per cent at masters or PhD levels between 2012 and last year. The report noted that higher education graduates experienced more fluctuation in unemployment than the general population but also much lower rates of unemployment on average.
Of those computer science graduates in employment, six out of seven were based in the State – indicating the strength of the tech sector here. However, there has been a marked shift towards overseas employment among graduates intending to go into teaching, nursing and other healthcare professions. Among level 8 health and welfare graduates, the employment rate here dropped from 63 per cent in 2012 to 51 per cent last year, while the employment rate overseas rose from 14 per cent to 21 per cent. Among graduates with an honours bachelor degree in education, the employment rate in the State dropped from 86 per cent in 2012 to 68 per cent last year, while the employment rate overseas rose from 6 per cent to 16 per cent.