Last summer, 800,000 new UK graduates flooded the graduate job market. Most of them were blissfully unaware of the fierce competition they would face in order to get a good graduate job.
The truth is, there is an overabundance of academically qualified graduates. The class of 2019 joined a pool of 1.2 million 2016-18 graduates who are still looking for graduate-level jobs and 300,000 international graduates who wish to work in the UK.
So at any given time, there are 2.3 million graduates searching for a job. CIPD research shows that only 52%¹ of them will never land a graduate-level job and the rest will, therefore, remain underemployed.
Only 52% of graduates get graduate-level jobs, CIPD reveals www.recruitment-international.co.uk/blog/2017/11/only-52-percent-of-graduates-get-graduate-level-jobs-cipd-reveals
Graduate Coach have examined why it is so difficult for graduates to get great graduate jobs nowadays and have come to the conclusion that it is the result of a series of unintended consequences:
Shortly after Tony Blair became prime minister, he pledged that 50% of all students should go to university. Whilst his intentions were to boost salaries, produce jobs and improve social mobility, the consequence of this decision resulted in the disequilibrium of the ratio of graduates to graduate job vacancies. From 1999 onwards, the number of graduates, relative to the number of graduate job vacancies has continued to rise exponentially.
Interestingly, whilst Tony Blair wanted more students to aspire to attend university, his eldest son, Euan, backs apprenticeships and wants far fewer school leavers to attend university, including those who are academically bright.
Successive governments have been successful in attracting large numbers of non-EU students to study in the UK (currently 350,000). Undoubtably, international students offer positive economic benefits, such as cross-subsidising the education of domestic students, injecting more cash into university towns and playing a vital role in research and innovation in the UK’s economy. Currently, there isn’t a cap on the number of international students that are able to come to the UK to study, and many, including the Migration Advisory Committee, recommends that it stays this way.
The unintended consequence is that many non-EU students who wish to stay in the UK and compete amongst an oversupply of graduates often struggle immensely to get a graduate job here.
Furthermore, the 2008 financial crisis resulted in significant structural changes in southern EU countries. Consequently, the youth and graduate unemployment rates increased, making the UK a more attractive place to look for jobs, without visa restrictions.
Schools, universities and, consequently parents and graduates place great emphasis on academic success. However, a degree alone is no longer enough. Possessing a degree allows graduates to meet the minimum entry requirements for a wide range of graduate jobs but does not act as the differentiator it once did historically. The strong focus on academic success yields a significant volume of graduates with a 2:1 or 1st class degree (78% of grads) but with little or no work experience. These graduates struggle to demonstrate their employability skills during the rigorous, multistage graduate recruitment process.
In order to help students and graduates, we must:
• Emphasise the importance of gaining work experience as well as graduating with a good degree classification.
• Ensure that they are aware that graduate recruiters build-up their talent pools by engaging with potential employees at networking events and via social media.
• Encourage them to build a professional online brand and maintain their network via platforms such as LinkedIn.
• Help them to understand that the future of the graduate job market is digital, and encourage them to improve their digital skills
• Explain to them the importance of getting a graduate coach to help them to discover their career path, nail their interviews and thrive throughout their career.
Graduate Coach is the UK’s leading graduate career coaching company. They help students and graduates to turn their degrees into careers through one-to-one coaching, interview coaching, online courses and books.
Written by Adina Pascall. www.graduatecoach.co.uk. Telephone 0207 014 9547