What degrees will help you weather economic crisis?

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Is your degree choice recession-proof?

No degree will make you recession-proof and guarantee you 100% employment in the future. Your chances of getting the job you want, or any job, depend on your approach to work, your ability to shine in an interview and a whole host of other factors besides your degree. Your prospects are, however, improved for some graduaters while the current economic climate means that others are going to struggle…

The top subjects to study at uni in a recession

Medicine and nursing

Medicine, though a long and demanding course with strict entry requirements, pays off quickly once you graduate. A job within the NHS as a hospital doctor provides further training and specialisation and fewer than 0.1% of medical graduates are ever unemployed. The work is hard, the hours long and the responsibility is enormous but stick at it and the financial rewards and job satisfaction are high. Many senior NHS doctors also run clinics in the private sector, which can be extremely lucrative.

Nursing, while it does not pay as well and conditions and morale have been questioned recently, is a good bet when it comes to employability. Around 2.1% of nursing graduates remain unemployed six months after graduation because demand for nurses is high. The NHS may be facing austerity cuts but people are still getting sick, and that will never change. Check out our intro guide Why Study Nursing? for more.

A special mention should also go to midwives. Midwifery is a popular degree course now and midwives are in great demand. The recession, it is said, makes people less likely to go out for evenings because they are a bit strapped for cash. This has created something of a baby-boom from the end of the ‘naughties’ and it shows no signs of abating. Complete a degree in midwifery and you are quite likely to have a choice of job offers.

Pharmacology and pharmacy graduates are also still required in their droves to provide pharmacy services in hospitals and in the community, dispensing an increasing armoury of drugs and health advice.

Teaching and education

The proportion of teacher training graduates who remain unemployed after a few months has risen a little but at 4%, the level is well below the average of 13%. With that baby-boom, the number of school starters will increase soon and the demand for teachers will continue to be high.

Social work and sociology

Social work and social policy students are still showing employment levels above average for graduates. This may be a sign that students studying in this area are flexible when it comes to the job market.

Subjects that are holding their own

The recession has increased unemployment among graduates of the following disciplines, but all are still bettering the average of 13%:

  • Science, technology and engineering graduates currently face unemployment levels of just over 11%.
  • Sports and exercise science graduates experience unemployment of only 8.7%.
  • Psychology graduates have an unemployment rate of 10.6%.
  • French graduates also do quite well – only 9.7% are unemployed after 6 months.
  • Human and social geography – unemployment is stable at around 10.2%.

Degree courses to think about carefully

Article _degreewheatherproof 02In the current recession, some professions and jobs have been harder hit than others.

  • The building and construction industry has declined because of the drop in house prices across the UK. Graduates of architecture, urban planning, building and civil engineering have all seen their employment prospects fall. Architecture graduates face unemployment rates of around 14.9%.
  • The computer industry seems to have done some belt-tightening after the excesses of the 1980s and 1990s. Graduates of computer science, information systems and software engineering have seen their unemployment rates rise to between 17.3 and 19.8% - well above average for graduates.