For many college graduates, powering through a difficult degree, exam deadlines and all that cramming seems like the hard part. Then comes graduation and the quest for work. In 2014, The Times published figures saying nearly 40% of graduates were still looking for work six months after graduating, and almost 25% were still unemployed after a year. This is despite the same survey showing that up to a third of respondents sent out at least one job application every business day. Unsuccessful job hunting can be incredibly demoralizing; the research cited also noted that almost half of the graduates surveyed regretted their degrees and wished that they had chosen “more vocational” courses instead of academic ones.
The survey was conducted by job search site Totaljobs.com, and Mike Fetters – the director of the company – spoke about the results, raising the question of whether college is the best option for those seeking job opportunities in future.
“Although a degree is an essential qualification for some industries, school leavers need to think more carefully about which route to employment is best for them as some may be more suited to an apprenticeship scheme.”
As if these depressing statistics aren’t bad enough, 2015 figures published in The Independent also showed that several graduates settle for “non-professional” jobs for which they are often overqualified. A third of working graduates took jobs as cleaners, office juniors and road sweepers six months after leaving university. In stark contrast to some opinions that millennial graduates are picky and entitled, this study also showed that many graduates were happy to travel up to 35 miles for a job interview, and one in six were even prepared to go as far as 100 miles away to get a job. It seems many young people are willing to bend over backwards to get their foot on the career ladder.
In all, these figures paint a bleak picture for UK graduates seeking employment after finishing college, especially considering the debt many acquire in the course of their education. With this in mind, Frances O’Grady – then General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress – which represents worker’s rights criticized the British government for letting young people down.
“For many university leavers, the prospect of finding a job that matches their talents is gloomy. Despite paying huge amounts to get a higher education, many are being forced to take on lower-skilled jobs, which is in turn pushing those who don’t have a degree out of the labor market altogether.
“Young people are simply not getting the opportunities they deserve. If we don’t create better jobs for graduates we won’t be able to build the higher-skilled workforce the UK desperately needs to boost productivity and compete with other countries.
“The government’s economic plan is failing to solve this career gridlock, but action is urgently needed. Bemoaning the lack of decent graduate jobs is becoming an annual event.”
Against a backdrop of a competitive job market, rising student debt and frequent rejection, many graduates have no choice but to face the application process and get on with the grueling task of finding a job. Anna Jacobs was one of many job seekers doing exactly this when she got a rude shock from the company she had applied to.