Graduates leaving university found it harder to get jobs in 2011 than students finishing A-level courses, as youth unemployment hit its highest level since the 1980s, official data shows.
In 2011, 20% of 18-year-olds who left school with A-levels were unemployed compared with 25% of 21-year-olds who left university with a degree, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Graduate unemployment rates were almost on a par with those for people leaving school with just GCSEs, with 26% of 16-year-olds with these qualifications out of work.
But the ONS figures show it was easier for older graduates to find work: at age 24 only 5% of degree holders were unemployed compared with 7% of those who finished their education after A-levels and 13% of those with only GCSEs.
Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, said the figures were “absolutely correct, but give a misleading impression”, as the cohort of people leaving with A-levels was smaller than the number graduating.