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Understanding psychology graduates’ careers can help meet rising demand for psychologists, says new report

08 July 2021

A new report on the career routes for psychologists, commissioned by the British Psychological Society and carried out by the Nuffield Trust, has been published.

The report suggests that a better understanding of psychology graduates’ careers could help to meet demand for psychologists and mental health care, which is only expected to rise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It finds a clear disconnect between graduates’ career aspirations at the start of their degree and the route they eventually take. The majority want to enter a career in clinical psychology, but only a small percentage eventually working in this area.

This may be due to a lack of opportunities, but also limited awareness of the other roles that are available to psychology graduates.

The report also finds issues related to inequalities. For example, men are less likely to pursue a career in psychology but those who do tend to earn more than their female peers.

People from Black and Asian backgrounds are less likely to hold senior NHS roles and are less likely to be accepted onto a clinical psychology training course.

Dr Nasreen Fazal-Short, chair of the BPS Presidential taskforce on diversity and Inclusion, said:

“There are many recognised barriers to becoming a clinical psychologist including race, disability and socio-economic status. We know there is a lot of work to do to break down these barriers and make the profession more open and accessible, which in turn will help improve access to services for all.”

Given the extra demand on mental health services that is likely to occur as a result of the pandemic and increasing mental health issues in the population, understanding where the barriers to progression into a career in healthcare arise will help to meet the needs of the public and provide enhanced mental health support from qualified psychologists.

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