Figures out this week show that graduates will face their toughest year yet, as unemployment hits over 2 million, according to statistics reported by the BBC from the ONS (Office for National Statistics).
Jobcentre figures suggest that for every vacancy they advertise, there are over 10 applicants for each position.
So what does the future hold for our next batch of graduates in the working world? Is this putting doubt in the mind of students everywhere about whether a University education is worthwhile?
How bleak is the job market for graduates?
The job market is a lot tougher for all jobseekers this year because of the economic downturn. With redundancies on the rise and businesses going into administration on a daily basis, it is a very competitive atmosphere.
The numbers of graduates admitted to graduate programmes across certain industries are in decline, and some employers are limiting their allocation of graduates to only the very top universities.
Although speculation always occurs that if you’re the last in, you’ll be first for the chopping block; this is not necessarily the case. It’s about skills, what you can bring to the job and how valuable you are for the company.
So who does want to employ graduates?
Before you start ripping up your degree in despair, check these out:
The Guardian reported that supermarket chain Aldi have significantly increased their intake of graduates due to the success of the low cost supermarket in the current climate. Recruits of Aldi’s graduate development programme can expect starting salaries of up to 40,000.
McDonalds actively publicised their 18 week management development programme for graduates at the start of January, emphasising that the fast food giants are not feeling the impact of the recession.
1 in 4 graduate programmes running in 2009 will pay starting salaries of 30,000 or higher.
Although graduates have suffered job scarcity in the private sector, the public sector is thriving. Civil servants, nurses, local education authority workers and teachers are all escaping the impacts of recession, relatively unscathed.
The ONS stats suggest that whilst wages in the private sector are down, public sector workers are enjoying an increase of up to £14 in their average weekly earnings compared to January 2008.
The public sector is also continuing to create new job opportunities for people whilst the private sector has been forced to downsize the workforces in many industries.
What can you do?
‘The early bird catches the worm’- No matter how clichéd the phrase, it’s true! Get applying now; don’t wait until you graduate to line up your career. It might be the last thing you want to think about while you’re snowed under with dissertations and revision, but applying for jobs now will pay off. Don’t wait until after your exams or you might find yourself disappointed.
Review your CV and interview technique. Your University will undoubtedly have a great careers service; they will be able to give you advice, look at your CV and even give you a mock interview to see how you fare. So, instead of procrastinating from that Chaucer essay by watching Hollyoaks or surfing Facebook, get down to the careers office and find out how they can help you. And of course check out my blogs for all the advice you could ever need!
Being at University might have solidified your career decisions for you, but it doesn’t hurt to broaden your horizons. So you want to be a journalist, but have you thought about PR, Marketing, Online editing, copy editing? etc. The more areas you can apply to, the better.
Have you thought about further study? If you’re dedicated and passionate to a particular career, why not harness your skills even further by taking up a masters, teaching qualification, vocational course etc.
Should prospective students be worried?
Although the media statistics seem bleak, this is not true for industries across the board. There will always be industries that are hit hard, and some that don’t feel the impact.
There are plenty of University courses that put students on year/half year work placements. This gives students the opportunity to network, explore career options and can often lead to job prospects upon graduating.
University is not only a great place for improving your qualifications; it gives you life experience, the opportunity to make new friends and have a lot of fun.
So don’t give up on University, there’s life in the old dog yet!