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A report to HEFCE and the Society for Research into Higher Education by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research highlights that non-graduate employment can provide graduates with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience before moving into graduate-level roles. However, the extent to which it provides a stepping-stone is influenced by a range of factors, including the graduate’s background, where and what they studied and when they enter the jobs market.

Using survey data from Futuretrack and Moving On, the report compares the early career paths of two graduate cohorts. Those who graduated in 1999 (‘the class of 1999’) are contrasted with those who applied for higher education in 2006, and graduated in 2009 from a three-year course or in 2010 from a four-year course (‘classes of 2009 and 2010’). It analyses graduates’ time spent in non-graduate jobs – from a longitudinal process-orientated perspective, from a cross-sectional perspective, and in a content analysis.

This preliminary analysis contributes to the growing evidence base relating to skills gaps, graduate outcomes and the relevance of work experience to graduate employability. It provides useful insights into emergent employment trends and will inform the development of HEFCE’s policy work in this area.

Date: 12 October 2016

Ref: Independent research