The Pros and Cons of doing a Degree

benefits of doing a degree

It’s that time of year again when the final year students at University fling their books to the side, possibly bridge dive into a local river (as per the Oxbridge tradition) and escape student life all-together to embark on their journey into the real working world. We look at the benefits of doing a degree and consider if 3 or 4 more years of education is really all worth it – does it stack up?

We look at the pros and cons of a degree in the workplace:

  • Academically – absolutely
  • Financially – short term – absolutely not; Long-term – ?
  • Socially – hopefully a yes, you’re likely to have a ball :0)

We all know the days of having a career for life are long gone – today  ‘the average amount of time we stay in one job is 4.5 years‘, according to research from Recruitment International. And as we’re in the midst of a skills shortage or even a crisis some would say in some sectors, this will length of time will potentially reduce further as highly-skilled candidates are given the upper hand, being able to negotiate higher salaries and work terms.

See our latest Job Market Report to see more about skills shortages and salaries in Dorset.

With University fees so high these days, you have to seriously consider if going to Uni is really worth the financial investment. Will your future career and earnings benefit enough from having either a degree or post-graduate degree?

If you can get your foot in the door with a good company, work hard, prove yourself and work your way up the rewards could be just as good, if not better. The benefits of clocking up 3 or 4 more years of experience could be worth more – depending on the company and the role.

The Stats

If you’re still unsure, we’ve gathered some stats from the Department of Education’s Graduate Labour Market Statistics for 2017 to help you decide.


-Graduates refer to people whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree at Bachelor’s level;
-Postgraduates are those holding a higher degree (such as a Master’s or PhD) as their highest qualification
-Non-graduates are those whose highest qualification is below the undergraduate level (i.e. National Qualification Framework Level 5 or below).

The Annual Employment rates: 2006 – 2017

‘In 2017, graduates and postgraduates had higher employment rates than nongraduates. Long-term trends illustrate that employment rates fell across all groups as the recession hit in 2008, although for graduates and nongraduates these have since recovered to around pre-recession levels. The employment rate for working-age postgraduates in 2017, however, was still 1.3 percentage points below 2007 levels (89.1%).’ (Dept of Education)

High Skilled Employment Rates 2017

‘Although graduates and postgraduates had similar overall employment rates in 2017 (around 87.5% and 87.7%, respectively), postgraduates had much greater high-skilled employment rates, with 77.8% of all working-age postgraduates in high-skilled employment compared to 65.5% of all working-age graduates.
A greater percentage of non-graduates were working in medium or low skilled employment than graduates or postgraduates across the working age population.’ (Dept of Education)


Annual Median Salaries: 2006-2017

In 2017 the average, working-age graduate earned £10,000 more than the average nongraduate, while on average postgraduates earned £6,000 more than graduates. The nominal earnings data does not account for inflation, however, it illustrates that long-term trends show that salary growth has remained subdued since 2010. This demonstrates how salaries across the economy faltered during this period, with higher education not necessarily protecting graduates from low salary growth.’
(Dept of Education)

Looking at these summaries – long-term it does all point to a degree still being worth the investment, and some companies do still prefer to take on graduates; rather than non-graduates.

But with so many variables in industries and job role, it’s worth researching the potential salary earnings on the particular area you’re thinking about getting into.

Graduate Labour Market Statistics


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How to keep your boss happy

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