Survey on destinations of graduates from higher education

Graduates at Birmingham UniversityThe Destinations of leavers from higher education longitudinal survey (PDF, 2.02mb) is a new report published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

The survey aims to examine what graduates are doing three years after graduation. Questionnaires were completed by graduates who left university in 2004/05 on a range of subjects including their activities during November 2008.

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Developing a high growth knowledge economy in the West Midlands

Laboratory at Micropathology Ltd, Warwick Science ParkKnowledge intensive industries rely on innovation and knowledge to gain competitive advantage and, although the sector has grown rapidly in recent years, the West Midlands has struggled to attract these activities.

Through a state of the region dialogue on the West Midlands’ knowledge economy (pdf, 383kb), the Observatory has identified a range of actions to address this, developed and agreed by a range of policy makers, researchers and academics.

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Britain’s got (hidden) talent

Open advantage computer room in BirminghamNew reseach has shown that two-thirds of UK workers with specialist skills are not using them in their professional careers.

The Western European Location Skills Audit undertaken by Oxford Intelligence covered eight ‘hard-to-find’ skill sets in ten countries.

The research showed that the UK ranks first in the Location Skills Index and either first or second in Technical IT, Engineering, Financial Services and Food Technologies.

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Graduate recruitment and the ‘credit crunch’

Graduates in gowns and mortarboards at graduation ceremonyAccording to a student briefing recently issued by the University of Birmingham’s Careers and Employability Centre, prospects for graduates seeking employment remain positive in the downturn.

Graduate recruiters and employers who actively recruit University of Birmingham students within a range of sectors and professions report that they intend to continue to recruit graduates at the same level as previous years.

This is due to recognition that recruiting fresh talent ensures business competitiveness now and after the recession.

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Investment in higher level skills and the knowledge economy

The government’s University Challenge initiative aims to support investment in higher education at a local level in order to:

1: Support the development of a ‘knowledge economy’ by unlocking the talents of local people and providing the skills and knowledge transfer that enables local businesses to grow and to attract new investment to the area.

2: Make a real difference to the cultural life of our towns and cities.

Our review (PDF, 538KB) of the ‘market’ for higher education in the West Midlands, conducted at the request of Advantage West Midlands and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, highlights a range of key issues and barriers that any new investment needs to help to address.

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Regional Skills Assessment 2008: key issues for employers

We produce the Regional Skills Assessment each year, providing commentary on the changing labour market in the West Midlands to inform the work of a wide range of organisations. This post highlights key issues for employers arising from our skills assessment work this year.

Over the last five years there has been a significant shift in the balance of employment from manufacturing to services:

  • There has been significant new job creation in private sector services such as business & professional services, retail, hotels & catering and in public sector services such as health & social care, education and public administration. Continue reading

State of the Region dialogue on the knowledge economy

The new state of the region process aims to engage with the region’s policy and decision makers on a range of key issues.

One of these is the knowledge economy. While UK demand for higher level skills is mediocre by international standards (with 28% of the working age population qualified to level 4 or above the UK was 11th of the 30 OECD countries in 2006), this is even weaker in the West Midlands. Less than 24% of those working in private sector industries in the West Midlands region had higher level skills and qualifications, well below the England average of 28%.

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The role of work placements in graduate retention

The Regional Observatory’s skills team have recently completed a major research project on graduate retention, attraction and employment for the Regional Skills Partnership and the West Midlands Higher Education Association.

One of the key findings is that 40% of graduates leave the region to find employment, especially in higher skilled, higher paying jobs in high value-added high technology industries and knowledge based services. Graduates from the Universities of Warwick, Keele and Aston are most likely to leave the region while those from Coventry and Wolverhampton Universities are most likely to stay.

The research also found that graduates who take part in work placement activity are much more likely to stay in the region. They have forged links beyond the university campus and are more likely to have got beyond the stereotypes of what the region is like as a place to live and work. Continue reading

Has Liam Byrne got it right?

Liam Byrne MP

Today in his “One year on” speech, the regional minister Liam Byrne returned to his theme of increasing the number of graduates produced by the West Midlands.

What evidence there is that the planned increase in graduate supply is matched by demand for them from employers is one of the issues that will be explored in the graduate research work about to be published by the Observatory.