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The graduate challenge

The graduate challenge

The phone rang.

“Hi can I speak to Jack?”

“Sorry he’s not in”

“OK ….. Perhaps you can help me? I’m from his University and we are contacting graduates to see if they have got a job. Has Jack got a job?”

“Well he has a zero hour’s contract in a local store, but it’s not a permanent job related to what he wants to do or at a graduate level, it’s what he did in the vacations to earn some money”

“Great … he’s got a job”

“Yes….. But it’s not a graduate job”

“That’s ok….he’s got a job”

So the box was ticked and Jack added to the statistic that makes me question the value of his University’s statement that 82% of graduates are in graduate employment or research; this HE statistic usually refers to six months after graduation. Jack tells me that many of his peers who were working in supermarkets and other low paid non graduate jobs had the same conversation.

So the challenge begins even before you arrive at University. Can you believe their employability statistics? In terms of employability, is the value of your degree what Universities claim it to be? This might be something that graduates should be questioning more assertively.

The challenge continues, Aditya Chakrabortty’s Guardian article of the 19th April 2016 refers to research published in early April by economists from Cambridge, Harvard and the Institute for Fiscal Studies. They found that at 23 universities men typically earned less even 10 years after graduating than their counterparts who’d never been.

Research published last August by the Oxford economists Ken Mayhew and Craig Holmes found that the UK now has proportionately more graduates than any other rich country bar Iceland – yet uses their brains much less than most other countries: the “underutilisation” of graduates – at work but not using their skills – is higher in the UK than anywhere in the EU bar Romania, Greece, Croatia, Latvia and Slovenia.

In a highly competitive job market with employers able to cherry pick for the most basic jobs, getting that step on the ladder is going to be a graduate’s greatest challenge. It is a fact of life now that many graduates will not get their first job in the position they want. Many use call centres, shop work, basic office work etc. as that stepping stone to a career. An opportunity to develop real life skills that will enhance a CV.

However, it will always be the graduates that take control of their employment journey that will have most success. Those who:

  • Take control from their first year in University
  • Scan the horizon
  • Know themselves
  • Understand what employers require
  • Understand what value they can bring
  • Network with potential employers
  • Developing transferable skills
  • Offer more than a degree

Those who set themselves apart will stand out and meet the challenge they face with success.

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