With the big push by the government to get young people to go to university, has it overlooked the volume of students graduating with no jobs to go to?
The biggest change over the years is within administrative positions, where 35 per cent of new recruits are graduates compared with just 3.5 per cent 30 years ago. If we look at the teaching profession, many teaching assistants now hold degrees, which never used to be the case. Are these positions being filled by graduates because the level of knowledge and skill required for the role has increased, or is it because there are simply too many university leavers for the graduate jobs available?
It comes as no surprise that it is the latter. Should bright students continue their education after sixth form if the jobs they take could just as easily be achieved via an apprenticeship straight from school? It is certainly a lot less costly for the student taking this route.
The average debt of a graduate is now approximately £44,000 and there is a starting point at which the loan starts being repaid. Around 45 per cent of these loans, or the value of them, will never be paid back. This is quite an extortionate amount and calls into question whether salaries will ever increase enough to repay this money, particularly with the type of jobs for which graduates are now applying.
A recent report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) revealed that over half of graduates with good degrees are looking at vacancies designed for those with far lower qualifications. It is evident that employers are opting to employ highly-qualified personnel who are capable of much more into positions lower down the salary scale, and why not? These are clever people who are willing to work for less; however, the negative of this is that those who would normally be good enough to do the role are now being overlooked.
The repercussions of this situation are that students are becoming demoralised with their job within the first year in the role, as it does not live up to their expectations. They spent time in their final year at university visiting specialist graduate job fairs and speaking to potential employers, only to find that it is not as simple when it comes to looking for a career.
In summary, bright graduates are going into jobs to work and earn rather than beginning a career when they leave university. This is the result of the increase in learning debt and high competition for graduate roles. Where will this end?
Perhaps the answer lies in the subject they are studying. Science and engineering and medical and research degrees are always going to be in high demand, with a career at the end; however, those who opt for the arts are going to find it harder, simply because the jobs are not there to begin with. Maybe the answer is making these degrees much more expensive to deter some students from applying for the course?
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