Only 4% of 1995 graduates unemployed


GRADUATE unemployment has dropped to its lowest level this decade, according to the latest report from the Higher Education Authority. Only 4.2 per cent of 1995 alumni were still seeking employment by April 1996, a small drop on the previous year's figure of 4.4 per cent and the lowest level of graduate unemployment since 1989. The number of graduates emigrating also remained low, at less then 10 per cent.

"It is a reflection of the value our society puts on graduation from the third level system," Mr Noel Lindsay, chairman of the HEA, said yesterday.

The levels of graduate unemployment are about 10 per cent lower than jobless rates for school leavers, which stood at 14 per cent in 1995, according to the ESRI. Graduate employment is expected to remain buoyant until the end of the century at least.

But there was bad news for graduates obtaining the Higher Diploma in Education: only 6 per cent of qualified secondary teachers obtained permanent posts at home, while 60 per cent of them were working in temporary, substitute or part time posts.

In 1995, awards were conferred on 26,394 people, ranging from one year certificates to postgraduate degrees, an increase of almost 6 per cent on 1994 figures. More than half of all respondents were in some form of employment by April 1996, of whom almost 10 per cent were employed overseas. Over 50 per cent of graduates were earning an annual salary of £11,000 or more.

Mr John Hayden, secretary of the HEA, said there had been an appreciable drop" in the number of graduates obtaining their first employment abroad.

In 1988, the worst year for graduate emigration in recent years, almost 20 per cent of graduates emigrated.

Britain remained the most popular destination for those working abroad, with almost 38 per cent of respondents with jobs overseas working there. About 25 per cent of those who travelled overseas went to EU countries, an increase of 6 per cent on 1994 figures, while the numbers going to the US decreased from 20 to 16 per cent.

The proportion of respondents who continued on to further studies or training fell slightly from 40.1 per cent in 1994 to 39.6 per cent in 1995.

The majority of those in employment found work in the eastern region.

The proportion of diploma and certificate students seeking employment fell from 5.2 per cent in 1994 to 4.9 per cent in 1995, continuing what Mr Lindsay described as a remarkable improvement" in employment in this sector once again the lowest level since 1989.

At individual college level, only 2.6 per cent of 1995 graduates from UCD were still seeking employment one year after graduation, a fractional drop on last year's figures. At the University of Limerick, graduate unemployment remained low at 4.6 per cent, although its graduate employment rate of 75 per cent was considerably higher than the HEA figure.