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"Darren at Aaron Wallis was really encouraging and helpful. He was very responsive and regularly made phone calls to explain the job opportunities available, and guided me through the application process"

Alys Brown

Is University Worth it?

The financial turmoil of Covid-19 has made the job market a tricky place for recent graduates. A mass reduction in hiring from revenue losses, alongside redundancies across the board, has meant that the once competitive ‘grad job’ is now gold dust.

Our survey found that over 30% of postgraduates did not need a degree to do their current job, and a further 46% of postgraduates did not think that their university education was worth the money¹.

The data suggests many postgraduates are now having to start their careers with whatever job they can find: often positions they could have achieved with their A-levels or GCSEs.

After graduating from university, the average student debt is £46,884². This begs the question, is university really worth it?

Does a degree actually help you find a better job?

The story told to teens throughout the country is to go to university, graduate - and secure a role that you wouldn't have been able to achieve without higher education.

Previously this might have been true, but a report from the Office For National Statistics suggests that coronavirus is stopping many graduates from reaching employment. At the start of 2020, before Covid-19, the unemployment rate of recent graduates was around 7%. Towards the end of 2020, this grew to 12%.
To put this into context - total unemployment only increased from 4% to 5% during the same period³:

Backing this up further, a report last month from the Office For Students reports that over 24.3% of postgraduates from the 2018-19 cohort did not go on to ‘professional employment’⁴ or further studies within 15 months of graduating⁵.

Unsurprisingly, the group of students who graduated in the last couple of years may not be seeing their university education as worth it.

Do you earn more as a graduate?

Despite the above, the historical data in the university debate paints a prettier picture. Numbers from the Department for Education⁶ state that working-age graduates aged 16-64 earned a median salary of £34,000 in 2018. Their non-graduate peers chose a different path earning a median salary of £24,000.

Despite hefty debt, many postgraduates would likely see the extra 10k per year worth it, as after tax, within 7-8 years, you would have likely earned back the cost. To add to this - the further you get into your career, the more you see the salary benefits; take the following study from the Higher Education Statistics Agency:

The majority of postgraduates aged 21-24 years old earned between £21-27k, but once aged 25+ the most likely earning is £39k+. Once you’re on the ladder of graduate jobs, wage progression is often fairly lucrative.

Does it matter what you studied, or where you went to university?

The same report from the Office For Students looking at the 2019 cohort suggests that this does matter, with postgraduates from particular universities and study subjects finding a graduate job or further studies more easily. Take the top 10 subjects by ‘progression rate’, for example. This is where a graduate reaches professional employment or further studies within 15 months of leaving university:

Subject Progression Rate
Medicine and dentistry 98.3%
Nursing and midwifery 95.0%
Veterinary sciences 92.4%
Architecture, building and planning 85.6%
Allied health 85.2%
Medical sciences 84.9%
Physics and astronomy 84.7%
Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy 84.4%
Chemistry 84.1%
Engineering 83.5%

If you have a healthcare or scientific degree, you’re far more likely to ‘progress’. The same goes for the top or highly specialised universities, where around 90% of graduates immediately go into professional employment or further studies:

University Progression Rate
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine 94.3%
St. George's Hospital Medical School 91.0%
St Mellitus College Trust 90.6%
The Royal Veterinary College 89.6%
The London School of Economics and Political Science 89.4%
University of Oxford 88.7%
University of Cambridge 88.2%
The University of Bath 88.2%
King's College London 85.5%
Royal Northern College of Music 84.8%

Given that most courses are the same price, circa £9k per year, where you go and what you study does make a difference in the ‘worth it’ debate.

Location & gender

Our survey found that those living in London were more likely to have found their degree beneficial:

61% of postgraduates in London strongly agreed that they needed their specific degree to undertake their current job responsibilities.

Graduate employment opportunities are more in supply in London: but in fairness, there may be some skew from postgraduates who moved to London following a job offer. Interestingly, there is some gender bias in our survey results:

63.05% of female postgraduate respondents stating that they are not using their specific degree in their career, compared to around 50% for male respondents.

A factor in this may be the study subjects between the genders - as we know, the split in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects is 65:35 male:female. Also, From our earlier analysis, more technical subjects tend to have higher ‘progression rates’.

Summary

Postgraduates in the last two years are definitely having a tough time. There are countless stories of recent postgraduates attending tens of interviews and still not getting a job - the ONS also suggest that 12% of recent graduates are unemployed.

However, this scale of unemployment is hopefully a short-term slump from Covid-19, and you would expect that moving into 2022-2023, the unemployment number will come down to the normal expected levels of 6/7%.

Financially, it's clear that the majority of graduates will see the benefits from their degree, as the extra £10k you see per year in salary from being a postgraduate outweighs the £40-50k debt you are initially saddled with.

In essence, as you get older, it’s more likely you’ll see your higher education as ‘worth it’.

References

1) Survey based upon 500 UK adults aged 21-35 who have a degree which they paid for and who are currently employed, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment

2) Based upon a typical three-year course with fees of £9,250 a year and a £6,378 a year maintenance loan


3) Office For National Statistics - Graduates’ labour market outcomes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: occupational switches and skill mismatch, March 2021

4) Professional employment in the OFS report can be seen as a ‘highly skilled job’, matching SOC job codes where the role is either technically competent or at a managerial level


5) Office For Students - Projected completion and employment from entrant data (Proceed): Updated methodology and results, May 2021

 6) Department For Education - Graduates continue to benefit with higher earnings, April 2019 

We welcome use of our data or sharing of commentary across any website or platform. Please reference Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment: www.aaronwallis.co.uk.

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Rob Scott - Aaron Wallis

by Rob Scott

Managing Director

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
 
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

Our employers say...

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

Really good service. Just the right amount of contact and easy to deal with.

HR Manager, Zircon Software Ltd

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

I could not suggest anything I would like you to do better. The service you provided materially exceeded my expectations. I would especially like to commend Simon Bonner; he is easily the best recruitment consultant I have ever dealt with. I particularly valued his advice and guidance throughout the recruitment process. 

UK Sales Manager, BTS Holdings Limited 

As always we were extremely impressed with Rob's understanding of the role and our specific needs.

Managing Director, Speck & Burke

Thank you for your dedicated help during the recruitment process - we came to you after unsuccessfully searching elsewhere, and hired, not one, but two! Quick response times, and a really personal approach, without being pushy.

Managing Director, Accora Ltd

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

HR Assistant, Fischer Connectors Ltd

Generally good standard of candidates. Especially liked the personality profile. Overall good value for money and will certainly use you again.

Managing Director, Medicash

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Our candidates say...

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

Rob was really helpful when I was putting together a presentation for the second stage interview. Overall their communication was great and kept me updated of any progress

J. McGrattan, Candidate

The most professional recruitment agency I've ever worked with. Robert Scott was extremely proactive and send me a detailed briefing before each interview, ensuring I was well prepared.

D. Bermant, Candidate

Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

Sophie has been fantastic and always so attentive, highly recommend.

T. Ashbourne, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

I had a very good experience with Aaron Wallis. The company itself is offering great content for all things related to the hiring process. I definitely recommend.

J. Ostermeier, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

When talking with Simon you felt relaxed cared to help you find a position that suited your needs

D. Pinder, Candidate

Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

I had a great experience. Helped me every step of the way to get my new job. Sophie was very polite, kind and helpful!

J. Parnham, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate

George Humphries was a complete professional at every point, from our first phone conversation to his “good luck tomorrow” text on Sunday before I started in my new role.

E. Fry, Candidate

I would highly recommend Aaron Wallis Recruitment, Darren was extremely helpful and provided me with plenty of advice and support throughout the whole process.

D. Bretherton, Candidate

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles sought to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

I had the absolute pleasure of working with George Humphries on finding a placement best suitable for me.

A. Van Der Mescht, Candidate

The staff at Aaron Wallis were fantastic. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication and I always knew where I stood.

M. Owusu, Candidate

Tom was a great help in finding me employment

N. Lignier, Candidate

Friendly, proactive, communicative. Overall a really positive experience.

R. Houston, Candidate

Darren at Aaron Wallis was really encouraging and helpful. He was very responsive and regularly made phone calls to explain the job opportunities available, and guided me through the application process.

A. Brown, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

For anyone looking for work, I can't recommend Aaron Wallis highly enough.

C. Rockliffe, Candidate

Simon was knowledgeable on his clients history, background and what their requirements were and he worked around time zones, holidays and a pandemic to get the right result.

J. Tooze, Candidate

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

The detail put into the preparation for interviews and the detail of the job description was first class. Rob and Simon in particular are amongst the best I've ever dealt with.

K. Peacock, Candidate