Graduate Employment figures on the increase

Latest HEA report shows 65% of all 2014 graduates are in employment with 82% employed in Ireland

The percentage of honours graduates in employment has risen to its highest level in decades, according to a report published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA).

These latest findings are contained in the annual What do graduates do? report and provide insights into the first destination of graduates of Irish universities and colleges of education, nine months after graduation. 

The study looks at those who graduated from Degree, Postgraduate, Masters and Doctorate courses from 13 institutions around Ireland. 18,500 graduates responded to the survey, which amounts to 69% of the 2014 graduate cohort.

Source: Higher Education Authority


The report shows that employment is up overall across the 18,500 graduates surveyed with 65% in employment nine months after graduation.

The highest levels of employment can be seen among Masters and Doctorate graduates at 78%. This is an improvement of five percentage points on the previous year.

Likewise, employment grew for Higher and Postgraduate Diploma graduates, from 73% in 2013 to 76% in 2014.

The lowest levels of employment are seen in those who obtained Honours Bachelor Degrees. 58% found employment in 2014, however this is an increase compared to 51% in 2013. The survey also shows 35% of honours graduates are engaged in further study or training, which is a decrease from 40% in 2013.

Staying in Ireland

Another positive aspect to the study shows an increase in the percentage of graduates staying in Ireland for work. Of the 65% graduates who are in employment, 53% of those are employed in Ireland and 12% are employed overseas.

For both Honours Bachelor Degree, and Masters and Doctorate graduates, the UK continues to be the most popular country for those employed overseas, followed by the USA. Australia has dropped off the top five table from last year for both groups, with Singapore and France making an appearance.


The most common sector of employment for Honours Bachelor Degree graduates was the Non-Market Services sector at 30%, followed by Business, Finance and Insurance Services at 24%. Non-Market Services include all public sector employment such as education, civil servants and healthcare workers and continues to be the biggest employer. 

Non-Market Services sector was also the most popular sector of employment for Higher Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, Research Masters and Doctorate graduates. 

Non-Market sector was also the most popular for the majority of overseas graduates, with 44% of Honours Bachelor degree, 77% of Higher Diploma and 73% of Postgraduate Diploma, 50% of Research Masters, 57% of Doctorate and 28% of Taught Masters graduates.


The report has also shown an apparent correlation between education and salary - with further education leading to an increase in salary. 

Over half of Honours Graduates from 2014, earn over €25k. This is up three percentage points compared to 48% of last year’s cohort. 

31% of Doctorate graduates report earning over €45k, compared to 4% Higher Diploma and 2% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates. „

Overall, Computer Science and ICT Honours Bachelor Degree graduates are the highest earners, with 62% earning €29k or over. „Arts and Humanities graduates are the least well paid, with 25% earning less than €13k. „


In terms of gender, the proportions of males and females in employment are very similar for Honours Graduates and Masters and Doctorate graduates. For Level 9 graduates, females fare better with 77% in employment compared to 74% of males. Additionally 72% of those females are employed in Ireland compared to 63% of males.


Dublin is the region with the most employment opportunities for all graduates with 37% of Honours Bachelor Degree, 33% of Higher Diploma and 28% of Postgraduate Diploma graduates finding employment there, followed by the South-West region of Ireland.

Commenting today, CEO of the HEA Tom Boland said: “The findings of this report highlight many positive outcomes for graduates.  Overall, employment levels – and employment in Ireland in particular – have improved from last year, and fewer graduates are going overseas for work".

Speaking to Today FM's Susan Keogh, he remarked that employment levels for higher graduates were back to the highest level in decades - to 2006 levels.

While he acknowledged the many positive findings in the report, he also warned about the potential risks to the quality of graduates due to a decline in resources per student in recent years. 

"A sustainable long term approach to the funding of higher education is urgently needed. It is to be hoped that the report of the Expert Group on Future Funding for Higher Education will prompt the necessary action at government and broader political level”.

The full report can be found on the Higher Education Authority website