British graduates struggle to find work: research

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British graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find work after leaving university and government spending cuts could make the situation worse, research published Monday said.

Around 8.9 percent of young people who left university in 2009 were still without a job six months later, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), a charity, said.

That was a one percentage point increase on the previous year and the research highlighted particular problems in construction-related sectors such as engineering and architecture.

The HECSU said the picture could get worse as government spending cuts announced last month start to bite in the coming financial year.

The overall unemployment rate in Britain, which emerged from recession at the end of last year, currently stands at 7.7 percent. The economy grew by 0.8 percent in the third quarter.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, a financial watchdog, predicts that around half a million public sector jobs will go, while professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers also says the same number will go in the private sector.

The HECSU said that government cuts "may well have a significant effect" on graduate employment even though these are being implemented over four years.

"Whilst the government plans to phase in spending reductions over the lifetime of the parliament, the public sector workforce is disproportionately graduate," its report said.

"It remains to be seen how, exactly, graduates will be affected, but it may slow the process of a return to normality for the graduate labour market in the medium term."

The findings were based on a survey of 82 percent of the roughly 275,000 people who graduated last year.

© 2010 AFP

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