Public sector budget cuts of around 25% could hike graduate unemployment to unprecedented levels, leading to a graduate unemployment rate of over 20% reports the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).
Charlie Ball, Deputy Research Director at HECSU, forecast last year’s graduate unemployment to be in the region of 7.5%. It was reported at 7.9% in January 2009, which is around 22,000 graduates. With a higher proportion of the public sector qualified to degree level than the private sector, the recently announced cuts could have a disproportionate effect on graduates.
‘There are around 39,000 ‘non-frontline’ public sector jobs taken by UK-domiciled graduates annually. I don’t expect them all to be lost, but they don’t need to be to have a significant impact. Even if only a fifth of them were to go and not be replaced, then that would more than double graduate unemployment for the cohort affected in one fell swoop. That would put graduate unemployment over 20% and pushing towards 25%,’ says Charlie.
He adds, ’If we are to believe the CIPD’s forecast, that 725,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector over the next five years then even if a third of those lost are graduate positions then about 240,000 graduates could lose their jobs in the UK over the next four years. That is equivalent to an entire year’s university graduating cohort.’
‘We don’t know exactly where the cuts are going to fall, how deep they will be or when they will take place. However, even if I am very wrong indeed, the impact of the proposed cuts could be sufficient to have a profound effect on the labour market for new graduates, and particularly on those outside London,’ concludes Charlie.
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