§ Mr. Robert McCartney
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list for the most recent year for which figures are available(a) the percentage and number of school leavers who obtained a degree and (b) the percentage and number of posts requiring a degree filled in the Northern Ireland civil service clerical and administrative grades; and if he will ensure that the admission procedure does not discriminate against graduates. 
§ Sir John Wheeler
It is estimated that 27 per cent. of school children in Northern Ireland—some 6,700—graduate by the age of 25.
In the year 1996–97 a total of 735 clerical and administrative vacancies were filled in the non-industrial Northern Ireland civil service, of which 20, 2.7 per cent., required a degree as a condition of entry. The remaining 715 posts were standard clerical appointments where the nature of work to be performed does not require applicants to possess a graduate level qualification. Recruitment procedures to the NI civil service reflect the service's firm commitment to equality of opportunity in 303W employment; entry standards for particular posts are set in relation to the nature of the work to be performed and all applicants are considered strictly on the basis of merit.