Most employers do not believe postgraduate degrees give workers an edge in terms of their skills, a new poll has suggested.
Only 19 per cent of employers said graduates with a master’s had better skills than those who did not take a postgraduate qualification, a survey from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) revealed.
The report shows no employers in the consumer goods sector valued the qualification, while only 6 per cent in the IT sector saw the benefits of a postgraduate degree.
Even where employers do value master’s degrees, such as the charity and public sectors, the graduates do not necessarily progress faster than those with other qualifications.
Only 12 per cent of employers said that postgraduate qualified hires progress more quickly in terms of salary than other hires, the survey revealed.
The findings may come as a surprise to hundreds of thousands of students who choose to stay on for an extra year and pay more than £9,000 for an additional qualification to boost their job prospects.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE, said: “In reality, most employers simply don’t discriminate between those with a master’s and those with a degree. They see them as the same.
“They are treated the same when they join. They do not go on a faster track or get paid a premium. I think that is a bit of a shock to some master’s students going into the labour market.”
He added: “Students shouldn’t expect employers to place a premium on the fact they have done a master’s. Just because you have been through the master’s process doesn’t necessarily prove that those skills will go through to the world of employment.”
But there are little differences in key skills such as resilience, leadership and dealing with conflict.
Mr Isherwood said: “Graduates generally arrive more polished, with a better array of both technical and interpersonal skills and some cultural capital, but employers are less convinced that they outperform apprentices in more fundamental attributes.
“As apprentices acquire more skills and experience, they may well catch up and outperform those who have been through the graduate route.”
A Universities UK spokesperson said: “Higher level skills are a key driver of economic growth with employers reporting an increasing demand for these skills in the future. Additional qualifications can enhance the valued analytical skills of students and can also give them greater depth of knowledge in key subjects and sectors.”