More than half of postgraduates are now in the workforce, according to a survey by the National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Universities of York and Oxford.
But many of the people who are in the labour force are in a position of being overqualified for the jobs they are applying for, the authors of the report said.
“We need some basic science to see what the impact of post-graduate education is,” said Matthew Davies, a postdoctoral researcher at the NCEES and co-author of the research.
“It’s not that there’s not a role for the university to do, it’s just that it’s not as high a priority as it used to be.”
The study also found that there were signs that the skills of post grads had declined in recent years, with some sectors of the labour market still struggling to adapt.
The survey was conducted between June and August, and involved 1,100 students across the UK.
“The decline in postgraduate employment is one of the most serious challenges facing postgraduation education in the UK,” said NCEE director of policy and research, Dr David Cockerham.
There is a gap between the skills required by the post-graduates and the skills available to those who can provide them, he added.
In order to find out what postgraders needed, the researchers surveyed 1,000 UK employers and employers of post graduates, and asked them to compare the postgraduate skills of those who were employed and those who had not.
They also asked them what they thought the skills were worth, and whether they believed that post-Graduate training would result in higher pay.
Overall, there were a range of issues that students needed to be aware of when planning for postgraduate work.
Postgraduates need to be more confident about their work and in particular about their skills, according the report.
“There is an urgent need for employers to recognise that postgraduating graduates have different skills and skills that are more likely to be undervalued,” said Davies.
Another issue was that postgraduate students need to know what to expect when applying for jobs, and to consider whether they can meet the requirements of those positions.
If they have not had any postgraduate experience, they should be more prepared to demonstrate their qualifications to potential employers.
“There is no doubt that post graduates need a lot of work in the classroom and they need to think about how to get that work done,” Davies added.