The European countries with the highest and lowest graduate employment rate


The European countries with the highest and lowest graduate employment rate


Figures from ONS, as per the report ‘Young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), UK: March 2018’, shows that the number of young people aged 18 to 24 not in education, employment or training has decreased by 5%, from October to December 2016, when there were 766,000 people who were NEET, to July to September 2017 when there were 731,000 people NEET.

As a result,, experts in training and further qualifications, wanted to investigate where the United Kingdom ranks when compared to other European countries for the employment rate of recent graduates.

The Knowledge Academy analysed figures extracted from Eurostat which represents the figures from 2016. The data considers the percentage of graduates aged 20-34.

The top five countries for employment rates are:


Malta (96.6%), Iceland (94.7%) and Germany, the Netherlands and Norway with employment rates of 90.1%.

The United Kingdom astonishingly ranks 12th, with 84.4% of graduates aged 20 to 34 employed soon after finishing their studies. This puts the UK behind the leading country for graduate employment, Malta, by 12.2%.

Contrastingly, the five European countries with the lowest employment rate as a percentage of recent graduates are as following:

Bulgaria (72%), Romania (69.3%), Spain (68%), Italy (52.9%) and Greece (49.2%). Greece has just under half the graduate employment rate of Malta. 

Barinder Hothi, Managing Director of, has made the following statement about the findings:

‘It is reassuring to see that the number of young people not in education, employment or training is continuously declining every year. However, the UK has a long way to go to reach the same level as the top countries with high percentages of people with post-secondary education qualifications and the number of young people employed after graduating. Although it would be interesting to see how many of these graduates’ work in the field they have graduated from; perhaps an indication of how long it takes for students to find jobs that may or may not be relevant to their undergraduate degree.’



To improve the rate of graduate employment, students may want to consider the following:

  • Explore work experience opportunities for undergraduates: finding internships while still a student can equip you with the necessary skillset upon completion of your degree.
  • Learn another language: research has shown that your employability increases with the more languages you know.
  • Take a further qualification: once you have left university, it is a good idea to specialise further in another subject, like accounting or even take a project management course, to give you an extra edge.


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