In the UK, more people than ever are choosing to pursue higher education. That’s despite the rising costs of obtaining a degree and the funding troubles faced by much of the sector this past year. However, the appeal of a university education has by no means waned. That’s because, as all evidence indicates, the value of a degree to your future career prospects is greater than ever.
As the workforce becomes more educated and the demands of the labour market become more specialised, the so-called ‘degree dividend’ has grown. Nowadays, it’s much more difficult to find high-paid or secure work without a university degree.
Furthermore, the benefits of pursuing a postgraduate education, at Master’s, MBA, or PhD level, for example, have also continued to grow. The UK government’s own figures state that those who pursue postgraduate study tend to have substantially higher levels of overall employment and lifetime earnings. Of course, this doesn’t tell the full story.
These trends often mask significant discrepancies in outcomes for different types of graduates. Those who choose certain fields of study tend to have worse outcomes than others. So, how can students make the right choice when it comes to their education? Having the right data to hand can help – here’s how.
Break down employment prospects by subject
You can use data to determine your post-graduation employment prospects by reviewing the current and future projected employment rates for your chosen field. The right data insights tool, such as Degree Choices, will allow learners to examine a range of fields to see how graduates in those sectors are faring. They can also look at regional employment stats for professionals with certain qualifications. Some even offer projections for future job creation in each field, provided by institutional bodies.
Look at salary statistics
Employment is one thing, but earnings are another. Using tools such as BEA and Payscale, students can see exactly what they can expect to earn in their chosen profession after graduation. They can also use freely available data resources to see how you can specialise your education to maximise your earning potential. These insight tools demonstrate that developing unique skills in specific fields can enhance salary prospects post-graduation.
Long-term earning potential is key
It’s important to look at the data with a longer view in mind. There are plenty of fields that might promise higher initial starting salaries but will offer little in the way of earnings growth over time. When choosing a degree field and specialisation, students must take care to examine what the data says about lifetime earnings potential. For example, starting salaries in nursing might be lower than in many other fields. However, the earnings progression of qualified nurses tends to escalate significantly over time.
Does intuition matter?
There are those that will argue it’s not correct to simply focus on the numbers when choosing a degree. After all, your education is, first and foremost, an experience in personal development. While it’s true that one should be guided by their passions, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the facts. Armed with the right data, students can choose a fulfilling degree path that engages their passions and delivers value for money. Value that can be measured in the form of genuine career progression and earnings growth. There are plenty of times where people should follow their gut instinct, but higher education is not one of them.
Data analytics can help learners choose the path required to launch their dream career. Your education is the most significant investment you’ll ever make.
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