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Creating Opportunities for Graduates - March 2012

Posted 26.03.12

In the current economic climate, it comes as no surprise that levels of unemployment are continuing to rise. Perhaps more surprisingly, is the number of graduates that are struggling to find suitable employment. The Office for National Statistics has said that the average number of applications for a graduate vacancy now stands at 48. The problem seems to be the development of a bottleneck in the market in which a backlog of candidates without experience are competing against those who graduated at least one year before.
Martin Birchall, Managing Director of High Fliers Research says "In a highly competitive graduate job market, new graduates who’ve not had any work experience at all during their time at university have little hope of landing a well-paid job with a leading employer, irrespective of the academic results they achieve or the university they’ve attended."

So how are graduates to gain experience when nobody is willing to give it to them?! This is the catch-22 situation that many graduates are facing at the moment. However it is not just graduates; in 2011, 20% of 18 year olds who left school with A-Levels were unemployed compared with 25% of 21 year olds who left university with a degree, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. Graduate unemployment rates were almost on a par with those for people leaving school with just GCSEs, with 26% of 16 year olds with these qualifications out of work.

So what can young people do to gain this valued experience? A recent survey from within the recruitment industry found that most jobseekers strongly agree that local and central government should encourage organisations to employ more interns and apprentices. The findings show that "... internships and other career training schemes are increasingly important to make sure employees can get a foot in the door, make their CV stand out and continue to learn new skills”

Recent news reports have suggested that mutiple job opportunities for young people have been created as a result of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. Volunteering and unpaid work is an option to be considered to gain work experience and may help individuals learn valuable skills which will give them that 'foot in the door'. It is becoming increasingly more important for graduates to use time after university wisely and gain skills and experience in whatever they wish to do.

It is largely in agreement, especially by jobseekers, that it is in everyone's interest to ensure young people and graduates are given more opportunities and access to work. Current graduates are an essential part of moving businesses forward and preserving our future workforce. Government and business organisations need to recognise the potential in these individuals and open up the opportunities to provide them with the necessary skills to secure work after education.