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Tessa Blackstone welcomes graduate employment news

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Education and Employment Minister Tessa Blackstone yesterday welcomed news that graduates continue to be in demand by employers. The Higher Education Funding Council for England today published the first employment rates of universities, which will help prospective students to choose their course and university.

Tessa Blackstone said,”The employment rates show that graduates remain highly sought after by employers. Higher education offers real rewards and we must continue to encourage everyone with the qualifications and determination to enter into higher education to do so. We must also continue to support universities to ensure that students graduate with the knowledge and skills that employers will want.

“Foundation Degrees, developed by employers and universities, will help fulfil this need when the first students on these courses graduate in 2003. In the recent White Paper on the Knowledge Economy, we announced New Technology Institutes. These Institutes will increase the supply of technicians and graduates to meet the expected demand in IT-related skills over the next decade.

“The indicators will also help universities and colleges to compare the employment of their graduates with that of others. I expect this will stimulate debate between them about their respective programmes and initiatives to enhance the employment skills of their students.”

“While this is good news for most students, we must not be complacent. Graduates from all ethnic minorities have significantly lower employment rates than white graduates. This is an unacceptable situation in respect of equality and because it is a waste of the nation’s talent.

“Universities and, above all, employers need to address this issue. Universities need to ensure that all students are properly supported throughout their student lives, regardless of their background.

“Professor Sir Martin Harris’ recent report on careers services in higher education made important recommendations on meeting the needs of individual students and graduates, particularly those who are most likely to need advice and guidance, but who are paradoxically the least likely to seek it out. Universities can also help through further and better training of tutors so they can provide good advice about employment opportunities to those having difficulty securing a job.

“The Government will be working in partnership with a range of organisations, including the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, the Windsor Fellowship and private recruitment organisations to try to make a difference.

“But we also need to tackle labour market discrimination head-on. That is why we are:

  • taking the message directly to employers that race equality makes good business sense;
  • providing specialist advice to help businesses develop and implement good practice in equality; and
  • changing the law to make the public sector set the pace in the drive for race equality.”

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