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According to the CFA Institute 2023 Global Graduate Outlook Survey, UK graduates and current students are concerned about low pay and want a “good salary.”  

Nearly three out of four (70%) respondents said that a good salary was the most important factor when choosing a career, up 23% from 47% in 2021. While one in three (37%) are concerned about their career prospects because of low pay in their preferred sector, even in traditionally well-paid fields like finance and investment.

UK graduates and students feel more pessimistic about their job prospects due to salary preoccupation, with one in three (32%) saying they are not confident about their futures, compared to one in four (25%) globally. Fewer than half (48%) of UK respondents believe they have better career prospects than their parents’ generation.

Additionally, the survey revealed that attitudes towards careers in specific industries are changing, with finance emerging as the most popular career choice for recent graduates and current students in the UK, overtaking medicine. At The KC Group, we specialise in Finance Sector recruitment. View our latest jobs here.

Graduates convinced by importance of qualifications and upskilling

UK graduates and students may lack confidence in their future career prospects, but they do have the skills and training to access new job opportunities and combat financial pressures.

93 percent of workers believe upskilling and professional/postgraduate qualifications are important in today’s job market, and 68 percent believe completing a postgraduate or professional qualification has improved their earnings prospects.

Finance is the most sought-after career among graduates, while healthcare and medicine are less stable and attractive 

Since salary priority has shifted, it has become less attractive to pursue more vocational careers such as teaching. Finance is considered the most stable career choice by one-third of respondents (29%) compared with one-fourth (26%) in 2021. STEM is viewed as stable by one-fourth (26%) of respondents compared with one-fifth (9%) in 2021.

UK graduates rank the top 10 most stable and attractive careers:  

  • Finance and Investment up from #4 in 2021
  • STEM up from #12 (joint) in 2021
  • IT & Telecoms up from #9 (joint) in 2021
  • Education down from #2 (joint) in 2021
  • Healthcare down from #2 (joint) in 2021
  • Law unchanged from #6 (joint) in 2021
  • Medicine down from #1 in 2021
  • Government down from #5 in 2021
  • Advertising, PR & Marketing up from #15 (joint) in 2021
  • Public Services/Intelligence down from #6 (joint) in 2021 

There was a decrease in confidence in healthcare and medicine, which usually top such lists, with 15% and 14% of respondents respectively saying they considered these career choices stable. Healthcare ranked 19% as a stable career choice in 2021, while medicine ranked 21%.

Nearly 10,000 university students and recent graduates, aged 18-25, were surveyed by CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals. A total of 1,000 respondents were from the UK.

Rhodri Preece, CFA, Senior Head, Research, CFA Institute, said:  “The results illustrate the extent to which salary is front of mind as graduates begin their careers amidst the rising cost-of-living, persistent inflation and weak economic growth. This is all directly impacting their career choices and it is no surprise that graduates are seeking out industries that traditionally offer higher pay, in the hope of having a more stable, secure career.”


Author Amie

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