It is the end of the academic year for students across Britain. A time to sit back, relax and enjoy the summer is now upon them – or is it? It is predicted that around 427,000 graduates will be applying for jobs, which is staggeringly high, especially when there is nowhere near that many for all of them.
No country in the world, however good its economy may be, can produce jobs in this scale just for its graduates therefore it is not surprising to discover that many of those that apply for them will not have secured a role after six months of leaving education (one in twelve graduates).
The latest HighFliers report is damning of those students who go to university but don’t do any work experience while they are there – stating that work experience is now a must. Over half the recruiters who took part in the research warn that graduates who have had no experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes. The research goes further, stating that students who have done work placements/internships are three times more likely to secure a top role.
This finding is common throughout the world with other countries graduates recruitment pointing to the same issues. A report by GradIreland, the leading graduate site in Ireland, supports findings in the UK, with 89.7% of the top one hundred graduate employers in Ireland stating that having completed a work placement or internship is the most effective way of improving one’s chances of being employed.
Whilst the total number of graduate recruitments is set to increase in 2013 by 2.7%, recruiters have confirmed that over a third of this year’s entry-level positions are expected to be filled by those who have already worked for their organisations, either through internships and industrial placements. Therefore these jobs are not open to other students and so they will never be able to apply.
Despite our world-renowned academic institutions, companies are noticing applications are often generally similar to the previous year’s applications: 46.9% of graduate applications to the top one hundred employers that are no different to one another. And so it is no surprise that they are employing those who have previously worked for them if such a high proportion of applicants are indistinguishable on paper.
University is a great way to improve one’s chances of employment, but it is not being used properly by many students who are wasting three or four years gaining a degree. A growing number of employers do not care what it is in or the classification, they only care about the experience gained outside of university. Young people must be educated in the reality that university is not what it was a few decades ago, it no longer guarantees employment and is a financial risk if things go wrong.
With a growing number of students facing unemployment or underemployment, now is the time for the government to highlight what other avenues there are besides university.
Obviously, it will still be essential and a positive experience for many, but for those who do not get a job or simply end up working in one they could have had anyway, university is not them. The idea that you can go there and do nothing but drink and sleep yet somehow secure a top job is laughable. I do not know if it was ever possible, but it is certainly impossible now.
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