HESA changes its SOCs

On the face of it, the shift from the 2010 to the 2020 Standard Occupational Coding system for the 2017-8 Graduate Outcomes doesn't sound like much.

David Kernohan is Deputy Editor of Wonkhe

The Office for National Statistics shifts the way it classifies jobs every 10 years – reflecting the way that employment generally and particular job roles are changing in the UK. Here’s the changes they spotted in between SOC2010 and SOC2020 – you’ll be delighted to learn that survey responses to the old Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) was one of their key sources of evidence, online job adverts were another.

The professional practice of veterinary nurses, higher level teaching assistants, and merchandisers was recognised for the first time in SOC2020 – but there were a number of other smaller changes. If you are looking at the finer grained data within a provider or on HEIDI plus you’ll see that the lower levels of SOC2020 have a lot more sub-groups to play with than in SOC2010.

The new coding was released by ONS on 14 February 2020, alas too late to apply to the first iteration of Graduate Outcomes released on 18 June of that year.

Because one of the main things people like to do with graduate destination data is to build time series with it and compare between years, having the first part of the series using a different coding frame didn’t make much sense. So HESA has worked diligently to recode the old data so it will be comparable with the new data available next month. This is a comparison by provider – showing in most cases a slight increase in the number of graduates coded as being in a “highly skilled” role.

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Proportionally these aren’t huge changes. Only eight providers saw the proportion of graduates in “highly skilled” employment fall – only four in England where these things might have a policy impact. Here’s a way of exploring the scale of the changes.

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