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Working in Wales

Wales offers the opportunity for graduates to work for major industry players, as well as smaller businesses, in a range of sectors.

As of 2015, 62% of those who study in Wales enter employment in Wales, according to the Higher Education Careers Service Unit.

Employers in Wales

About 99% of businesses in Wales are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employing less than 250 people – the majority are classified as micro-organisations employing fewer than 10 people. Don’t let this put you off considering Wales – many graduates working in SMEs are often amazed at how much responsibility they are given.

The major industry sectors, and some of key employers within each, include:

However, the public sector is the largest employer in Wales, accounting for 26.7% of total employment in Wales in 2015. The top three industry sectors are National Health Service (NHS), education and public administration.

There is also a growing demand for Welsh-language skills. Find out more about using Welsh in the workplace.

Graduate employers

Around a third of employers in Wales are graduate recruiters, including some large organisations with graduate training schemes, such as Welsh Water, BAE Systems, Aldi, Capita to name a few, and a range of small and medium-sized businesses.

In 2016, 35% of the Times Top 100 graduate employers had entry-level jobs on offer in Wales, according to High Fliers Research. The Guardian UK 300 also lists many leading graduate employers, many of which have a presence in Wales.

In Wales, opportunities for graduates are not always as visible or well-advertised and creative job search is key. Learn more about hidden jobs.

Turnover growth

The 2015 Wales Top 300 reveals that Wales’ largest companies grew at an astonishing 8.5% in combined turnover, well above the UK economy which has grown 2.5%.

Graduates in Wales

The vast majority of graduates in Wales do not take up traditional kinds of graduate post in large companies, but go to a wide range of employment or further study. Around one-third of graduates take jobs where their degree is initially not seen as a requirement, according to the Institute of Employment Studies.

According to the 2011/12 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DHLE) survey, Welsh graduates are most likely to be employed in:

  • sales and customer service roles (14.15%)
  • caring roles (8.9%)
  • administration jobs (8.5%).

Find out what graduates of Cardiff University have gone on to do. You can find details of training schemes and vacancies offered to graduates in Wales.

Lower-than-average salaries

It's worth noting that graduate salaries range widely in Wales and average salaries can be lower than other UK regions, reflecting lower overall salaries in Wales rather than a reduced return to degree level study. In 2015, the average salary in the UK was £20,637, according to the Higher Education Careers Service Unit.

Contact us

For more advice on working in Wales, please get in touch:

Careers and Employability