By Daniel Hunter

The percentage of recent graduates, people who completed a degree or higher education qualification within the last six years, employed in lower skilled jobs has increased from around 26.7 per cent in 2001.

Higher skill jobs generally require competence through post-compulsory education whereas lower skill jobs tend to require competence only through compulsory education.

Over the same period the population of recent graduates who are no longer in education has increased by over 41 per cent, or 438 thousand, and currently stands at 1.50 million people.

"These numbers confirm what every student or recent graduate knows - that in recruitment terms, this is still a winter of discontent," Matt Churchward, director of the Green Recruitment Company, commented.

"For the last decade the number of people obtaining a degree has steadily increased, yet many are now finding that in today's economic climate, a white collar education can lead to a blue collar job.

"At the end of 2011, more than one in three recent graduates was working in a low skilled job.

"Such grim statistics will force some young people to question the value of a university education. If three years of study leaves them with little more than a McJob, is it worth it?

"Unsurprisingly, recent graduates, whether in skilled or unskilled jobs, face higher job insecurity than graduates as a whole.

"However there are some crumbs of comfort. Graduates still enjoy better job prospects than those without a degree, and those with certain skills are still much in demand.

"We've seen that those with a good degree in science or engineering are highly prized. There's even a skills shortage, with many recruiters in the green sector having to look abroad to find suitable candidates."

From 2001 until the start of the recession in 2008 the employment rate for recent graduates was generally higher than that of all graduates regardless of the length of time since graduating. This is mainly because recent graduates are more likely to be younger and looking to enter the workforce, while for all graduates there are some that are older and not seeking work, for example they are looking after their family.

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