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Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Issue 59

Research reveals tough job market but bright future

The SCoR has published its Analysis of students and recent graduates survey 2012.

Nearly 500 current students and recent graduates from radiography programmes across the UK were asked to answer questions on a range of issues, from finances during and after their degree, their experiences in their first job and why they chose radiography.

The results reveal that 2011 graduates are feeling very positive about their career choice – 88% agree or strongly agree their career is so far consistent with their expectations. And 86% said they felt prepared for their first job.

Job prospects
Just over half (53%) of diagnostic radiography students had secured jobs in July of their graduation year. For therapeutic radiographers the picture was brighter – 81% had jobs to go to.

The results indicate that on the whole it’s taking graduates longer to find a job. Fifty-six per cent of respondents had secured a position within two months of graduating, a significant decrease compared to last year’s survey.

Audrey Paterson, Director of Professional Policy at the SCoR, puts the results into context: “The figures in the report do not tell a story about too many newly qualified radiographers, but about employers running very light on staffing levels – dangerously so in some cases.”

Finances
On average, radiography students graduate with debt between £5000 and £10,000. This compares favourably to the national average graduate debt of £23,000 in 2011/2012.*

According to the analysis, 22% of respondents did not receive either an NHS bursary or Student Awards Agency for Scotland award and only 51% received financial support from family or friends. Some respondents commented on the unfairness of the NHS bursary scheme.

Alongside personal problems, financial pressure was the main reason diagnostic radiography students did not complete a course. Therapeutic radiography students were more likely to drop out because of dissatisfaction with clinical placement or deciding it wasn’t the right career for them. Attrition rates remain a concern, as does access to education.

Explains Audrey: "My biggest worry in the current climate is about equality of opportunity for all and how it might be eroded. As a profession, we would lose enormously if we lost our current rich mix of people."

What does this all mean for future radiographers?
The number of radiography students and graduates has flat-lined over the past three years and the predicted trend is downwards. This means if all providers were to go to properly staffed systems in the next year the healthcare service will suffer from a supply shortage of both radiographers and assistant practitioners.

The bottom line is that, despite tough competition for jobs, diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers will still be very much in demand. Within the next fortnight The Centre for Workforce Intelligence will publish a report on the radiology workforce in England and is expected to recommend an increase in training numbers, but at half the level demanded by the Royal College of Radiologists.

In turn, there will likely be an increase in demand for advanced and consultant radiographers who will step in to fill gaps. This will have a knock-on effect on the demand for newly qualified radiographers and assistants.

The message to current students is: Radiography remains a profession that has real career prospects, but the competition for jobs will get tougher, at least in the short to medium term. A flexible, can-do attitude and a strong academic record will stand individuals in good stead, as will the ability to demonstrate you are willing to go that extra mile.
 

* Research by push.co.uk

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