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Construction graduates face record unemployment

The number of unemployed construction graduates has hit a 17-year high according to figures released today from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.

More than 10 per cent of students graduating in construction related degrees in 2009 remained out of work by January 2010, compared to an overall graduate jobless rate of 8.9 per cent.

The 10.9 per cent jobless rate among construction and engineering graduates fared slightly better than architecture and building or mechanical and civil engineering, with rates of 11.8 per cent and 11.9 per cent respectively.

The HESCU said the overall percentages were the worst since 1993, with just over 21,000 students known to be out of work in January. Graduate unemployment has shot up since the recession, climbing from 55 per cent in 2008 to 7.9 per cent last year.

But HESCU deputy research director Charlie Ball believes the figure might have peaked.

“Graduate unemployment hasn’t risen as high as we feared and is some way off the levels of the last recession in 1992, when it reached 11.6 per cent,” he said.

“Prospects for graduates in the short-term look brighter, with unemployment, as a result of the downturn, likely to have peaked and next year we expect to see a decline.”

The University and College Union, which represents academics, warned that rising tuition fees and a tough jobs market would put talented people off going to university.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Graduates are facing an increasingly competitive job market and leaving university with record levels of debt.

“Graduates are an investment in our country’s future and the fear is that an uncertain job market, coupled with the government’s obsession over earnings, will turn talented people away from university, which is not what the UK needs if we are to become a high-skill high-wage economy.”

The average salary for new graduates rose marginally to £19,695.