28th June 2015

The Big Graduate Survey 2013 results have been released at Parliamentary Reception

Parliamentary Reception: The role of graduates in business and the economy in Yorkshire

17th December 2013 4.30pm-6pm, Jubilee Room, House of Commons

Below is an extract from Martin Edmondson's (CEO, Gradcore) speech yesterday.

"Many thanks for joining us today, and in particular thanks to:

Yorkshire APPG and the two co-chairs Andrew Percy and Barry Sheerman for partnering with us, Lord Haskins for hosting, Lloyds bank for their support, and critically my team and Justin Homer’s team at LGYH for making this happen.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire and its two co-chairs Andrew Percy MP and Barry Sheerman MP for partnering with us, Lord Haskins for hosting, Lloyds bank for their support, and critically the Gradcore team and Justin Homer’s team at Local Government Yorkshire and Humber for making the event happen.

For those not familiar with the work of Gradcore, we are a social enterprise focused on graduate employment and employability, working with universities, graduate recuiters and government across the UK, but crucially born and bred in Yorkshire.

Since 1996, under various names, now yorkshiregraduates.co.uk, we have run a job board connecting gradates and employers across Yorkshire, and have placed more than 20,000 over the last 5 years with no core public funding.

As part of this work we are keen to build knowledge and intelligence on the Yorkshire graduate labour market, and so 3 years ago we instigated the big graduate survey. In the survey we asked around 50 questions, and got responses from around 1500 graduates.

As in most things, when it comes to graduates in the economy, Yorkshire is unique. The region is the only net importer of graduates other than the graduate vacuum that is London. We have more than quarter of a million students studying here, and we retain more than we lose after graduation. Therefore we do not have a brain drain, or graduate retention crisis. However, judging from this survey, we do appear to have an underemployment crisis.

Around 60% of graduates surveyed stated that they had a poor or very poor opinion of the Yorkshire graduate labour market, salaries have stayed flat (with the average around £20,000), and just over half of respondents perceive themselves as being in graduate level work. We also found that graduate working elsewhere were earning more (and not just in London), with neighbouring regions like the Northwest reporting slightly higher salary levels.

One proven way of doing this would be to encourage more paid internship programmes, providing lower risk access to talent for SMEs in particular, yet our research shows only 3% of graduates surveyed are in some form of internship. This is despite recommendations form the Wilson review, and the positive track records of initiatives by HEFCE and the RDAs, wherein anything from 60-85% of graduates who did these internships were taken on permanently.

These figures suggest that we are underutilising the talent we have in our region, and we should all be seeking ways to maximise value from this highly skilled labour pool. Recent BIS research has further endorsed the value of graduate to businesses and the economy. Their data shows that companies with a higher proportion of graduates are more innovative, and more productive – reinforcing the graduate economies research we published around 5 years ago.

This also matters to universities as we have seen, for the third year in a row, an increase in the importance of fees and graduate employment destinations in choice of university.

However, there is also some good news.

Graduates in Yorkshire are in line with OECD research in that their earnings increase over time, and outperform inflation in many cases. We also see graduates making increasing use of the resources available to them to develop employability and find work. Usage of the University careers services has increased significantly, with more than 60% accessing their careers service, 10% up on last year and outperforming recent national data from AGCAS suggesting 40% access careers services. Graduates are also far more satisfied with the service from these facilities, with an increase from 9% to 24% citing 5/5 service.

There are also pockets of fantastic graduate employment initiatives across the region, which are looking to maximise the value of graduates. These are coming from the public sector, private sector, and universities. The RISE scheme in Sheffield is especially close to our heart. We have been working on the idea of a ‘city as a graduate scheme for some time, and it is great to see it come to fruition in Sheffield, and act as a model to mend the disconnect between graduates and SMEs.

The voice of graduates in this survey suggests that many are keen to stay and make their mark in the region, but that they find it hard to do so, which is a challenge to all of us who believe that graduates effectively used can drive growth in businesses and the economy. With the UK economy showing signs of improvement, there is no better time to add fuel to the recovery by harnessing the power of graduates. We will continue to develop our efforts in this area through yorkshiregraduates.co.uk and Gradcore, and we hope you will join us in pushing for a renewed focus on this important subject. "

A full copy of the report will be available in January. Please contact us to request a copy. The executive summary can be found here: