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Ethnicity and graduates' early outcomes

Summary

This article looks at the initial outcomes of 2004 graduates by ethnicity, and reveals that:

  • White graduates were more likely than those from minority ethnic groups to be in full-time paid work and less likely to be unemployed six months following graduation.
  • Minority ethnic graduates were more likely than their White counterparts to be in non-graduate jobs, although they were also more likely to be in traditional graduate occupations, and to have reported that their degree was a formal requirement in obtaining their employment.
  • Minority ethnic graduates tend to concentrate in London - as locations of domicile, study and employment.

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Introduction

In the last issue of Graduate Market Trends, we looked at graduates’ early destinations and how these differed by age at graduation [1]. In this article, we look at graduate destinations by ethnicity, again, using data from the latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2004 graduates [2].

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Minority ethnic graduates in HE

Minority ethnic students were overall well represented in higher education. Amongst 2004 UK- domiciled first degree graduates, 13.8% were from a minority ethnic origin, compared with 7.9% of the total population in the UK [3]. ‘Indian’ constitutes the highest percentage of minority ethnic graduates (4.1% of the 2004 total graduate population), followed by ‘other (including mixed)’ (2%) and ‘Pakistani’ (1.9%). 3.9% of graduates did not report their ethnicity.

With the exceptions of those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi origins, all ethnic groups had higher percentages of female than male first degree graduates (56.8% females and 43.2% males on average). The gender divide was most prominent amongst Black Caribbean graduates and those from other Black background. Black graduates (ie Caribbean, African and those from other Black background) were also a lot more likely than others to have obtained their degree through part-time study, and more likely to be older. Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese full-time graduates were, on the other hand, likely to be younger.

Whilst only 8.5% of 2004 White first degree graduates were domiciled in London, the average for all minority ethnic groups was 45.5%. Two in five (41.3%) minority ethnic graduates also studied in a London institution, compared with one in eleven (8.7%) White graduates.

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Early destinations

Table 1 - Activities reported by 2004 first degree DLHE survey respondents by ethnic groups.
EthnicityFull-time paid work only (including self-employment) (%)Part-time paid work only (%)Voluntary/unpaid work only (%)Work and further study (%)Further study only (%)Assumed to be unemployed (%)Not available for employment (%)Other (including explicit refusal) (%)Grand Total (%)Total employment rate (%)*
White55.57.40.89.313.85.55.22.510072.9
Black or Black British - Caribbean49.913.10.610.19.18.14.15.010073.7
Black or Black British - African44.010.11.69.414.211.65.33.810065.1
Other Black background53.67.70.89.812.48.82.94.010071.8
Asian or Asian British - Indian51.27.30.810.214.98.74.02.810069.6
Asian or Asian British - Pakistani44.59.00.78.016.911.74.54.610062.3
Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi43.913.11.38.016.211.63.22.910066.2
Chinese43.56.71.09.121.510.34.43.410060.3
Other Asian background46.48.00.99.019.09.14.92.610064.4
Other (Including Mixed)47.17.71.28.717.79.05.23.310064.8
Grand Total (%)54.47.50.89.314.16.15.12.710072.1
* The total employment rate is calculated as the sum of percentages in full-time paid work, part-time paid work, voluntary/unpaid work, and work and further study.

Table 1 shows the activities reported by first degree DLHE survey respondents by ethnic groups. White graduates were more likely than those from minority ethnic groups to be in full-time paid work and less likely to be unemployed six months following graduation. Our analyses also show that:

  • Amongst minority ethnic first degree graduates, Black Caribbean graduates were the most likely to be in employment six months after graduation, with a total employment rate of 73.7%. Graduates from other Black background and ‘Indian’ were, however, the most likely to be in full-time paid work.
  • Unemployment was most rife amongst Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Chinese graduates.
  • 62.8% of White graduates working in the UK were in permanent or open-ended contract employment compared with 58.7% of minority ethnic graduates. There were, however, variations between minority groups. Black graduates were actually more likely than White graduates to be in this type of employment.

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Types of work

Six months after graduation, minority ethnic graduates as a whole were more likely than White graduates to be in business and financial professions or associate professions - 8.8% of minority ethnic graduates working in the UK were in such work compared with 7% of White graduates. Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi graduates all showed over 10% entry rates into these occupations.

Black African, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese and other Asian graduates were more likely than White graduates to be in health professions or associate professions, which ties in with the popularity of clinical medicine or, in the case of Black African graduates, nursing, amongst these graduates. In addition, one in ten (10.5%) Black Caribbean graduates were employed as social & welfare professionals - the highest percentage amongst all ethnic groups, reflecting the popularity of a social work degree amongst these graduates.

With the exceptions of Black Caribbean graduates and those from other Black background, graduates from all minority ethnic groups were more likely than their White counterparts to be in IT professions. Minority ethnic graduates were, however, less likely than White graduates to be working as education professionals.

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Graduate/non-graduate occupations

Table 2. Occupations for 2004 first degree graduates by ethnicity and SOC (HE)
EthnicityTraditional graduate occupations (%)Modern graduate occupations (%)New graduate occupations (%)Niche graduate occupations (%)Non-graduate occupations (%)Total (%)
White10.312.615.422.838.9100
Black or Black British - Caribbean5.211.114.325.544.0100
Black or Black British - African9.37.612.427.443.3100
Other Black background7.511.215.223.143.1100
Asian or Asian British - Indian21.59.110.818.839.8100
Asian or Asian British - Pakistani19.79.310.816.643.6100
Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi15.38.310.119.546.9100
Chinese17.97.713.816.244.4100
Other Asian background23.810.513.017.535.2100
Other (including Mixed)11.910.813.720.842.8100
Grand Total (%)11.112.314.922.739.1100
All minority ethnic groups16.69.412.120.141.8100

Table 2 shows the distribution of UK employed 2004 graduates in graduate/non-graduate occupations. The job classifications SOC(HE) used were developed by Elias and Purcell for the project Researching Graduate Careers Seven Years On [4]. More explanation is given in SOC(HE).

With the exception of graduates from other Asian background, graduates from all minority ethnic groups were more likely than White graduates to be in non-graduate occupations, although the percentage of Indian graduates in non-graduate occupations was very comparable to that of White graduates.

Minority ethnic graduates overall were, however, better represented than White graduates in traditional graduate jobs. This was partly due to the large numbers of Asian and Chinese graduates from clinical medicine who went on to become doctors. In addition, Black graduates were more likely than other ethnic groups to be in niche graduate occupations, of which nursing is one example.

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Are graduates' qualifications required for their job?

Graduates were asked whether they would be able to get their job without the qualification (i.e. the actual qualification not the subject of study) they recently obtained. White and minority ethnic graduates were equally likely to have reported that their degree was not a requirement for their job - 37.4% of White graduates reported that this was the case compared with 37% of minority ethnic graduates. This is in spite of the earlier findings which reveal that White graduates were less likely than their minority ethnic counterparts to be in non-graduate occupations. One possible explanation for this is that respondents might have different perceptions of what is classified as a graduate job. Minority ethnic graduates (32.6%) were also more likely than White graduates (30.8%) to have reported that their degree was a formal requirement. By contrast, Black and Bangladeshi graduates were the most likely to think that their degree was not required in obtaining their job.

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Location, location, location

Nearly half of UK employed minority ethnic graduates (45.5%) were working in London six months after graduation, compared with 14% of White graduates. Comparing the number of graduates who studied in each region and the number working in the region, for both White and minority ethnic graduates, there was a net flow of working graduates into London, at 69.2% and 8.6% respectively. The relatively small percentage of minority ethnic graduates moving into the capital to work could be explained by the fact that many of these graduates qualified for their first degree in the region, as previously mentioned.

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Conclusion

The results of this DLHE survey analysis suggest that initial labour market attainment amongst minority ethnic graduates was not as good as that for White graduates. Amongst minority ethnic groups, Indian graduates had the best employment outcomes six months after graduation.

According to an earlier study, Why the Difference? A Closer Look at Higher Education Minority Ethnic Students and Graduates, Indian and Chinese were more likely to enter higher education with higher qualifications, but did not appear to be doing as well as might be expected in employment outcomes [5]. Minority ethnic graduates were also found to have less chance of getting through each of the stages in the graduate recruitment process of large organisations than White graduates. The report concluded that:

ethnicity is almost certainly making a contribution to the relative labour market disadvantage some individuals experience, but the causes are more complex than ethnicity alone….It is a combination of a number of indirect effects, rather that direct ethnic effects that have the greater significance, though in different ways for different ethnic groups.

References

1. Influences of Age on Graduates’ Early Destinations, Graduate Market Trends, Autumn 2005.

2. Supplied by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

3. The total population figure comes from Census 2001, Office for National Statistics (ONS).

4. SOC (HE): A classification of occupations for studying the graduate labour market, Researching Graduate Careers Seven Years On research paper no.6, Peter Elias and Kate Purcell, March 2004.

5. Why the Difference? A Closer Look at Higher Education Minority Ethnic Students and Graduates?, Helen Connor, Claire Tyers (Institute for Employment Studies), Tariq Modood (University of Bristol) and Jim Hillage (Institute for Employment Studies), 2004.

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Copyright © 2002-2014 HECSU | Content last updated: Winter 2005/06

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