Finally, experimental data that gives us some results!
Experimental analysis can sometimes be a little far-fetched in its findings and sometimes not very reliable but the Department for Education’s Longitudinal Education Outcome (LEO) data is not one. This dataset links graduate outcomes with employment data to show us how much graduates are earning one, three, five and ten years after graduation, by degree.
This year’s data is the fifth in this series of reports, and when reading it, 3 things really stood out:
1. It pays to be an Engineering graduate: One year after graduation, 86% of Engineering and Technology graduates were either in sustained employment, further study or both. This was higher than all degrees other than medicine, dentistry and other clinical health sciences. This is great news for prospective students who may be considering doing an Engineering related degree at university to know that there are fantastic career opportunities in manufacturing after graduation.
2. For engineering graduates the only way is up: The trajectory of median earning for Engineering and Technology graduates is positive. They can expect to receive median earnings of £25,100 per annum, a year after graduation, this increases to £40,000 ten years after graduation. After ten years since graduation, only Medicine, Dentistry and Economic students earned more.
3. Students that have work experience are ahead of the game: Students that had undertaken a sandwich year i.e. worked between the 2nd and 3rd year of their degree, were more likely to be employed, in further study or both, one, three, five and ten years after graduation. They were also more likely to have higher median earnings over the same period. Industry experience is something manufacturers desire in a candidate – 61% of manufacturers said a lack of experience was a barrier to recruitment. Nevertheless, we also know that those with industry experience are in high demand, which is why manufacturers currently offer internships 57% and sandwich/placement years 53%.
So how can Government make best use of this data?
Give students this data: The Government’s Careers Strategy talked about the need for young people to be able to make informed decisions, well giving them the facts on where degrees can take you is one way to do that. This data should be made available for the Careers and Enterprise Company to be able to use, promote and share so that young people can make an informed choice.
Expand the dataset: If the Government wants to truly give technical education the same parity of esteem as academic education, including the career trajectory of earnings for those that undertook technical education is a step in the right direction. Not only could it be an opportunity to highlight the benefits of pursuing a career in manufacturing through technical education, it could show that choosing technical education is not at a financial opportunity cost of a more academic route.
Ensure value for money: This data highlights precisely why graduates who do Engineering and Technology degrees feel their courses represent value for money. Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, recently announced that the Teaching Excellence Framework would be rating subjects’ gold, silver or bronze award, and details about post-degree employment prospects, potential earnings and dropout rates would be made available. The Government should use this LEO data to ensure that funding for the delivery of these degrees are not undercut going forward.
In the coming weeks we will be publishing an Education Briefing on funding for STEM degrees in the higher education sector – watch this space.