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Graduation — Photo by Alexander Wilson
Graduates can't afford to be too optimistic about their future. — Photo by Alexander Wilson

Statistics have emerged after last year’s graduation that employment of students is at an all time low. In July, Lancaster graduates received their exam results in the wake of new statistics that for every graduate job vacancy you will find yourself up against 68 other graduates. Following these statistics is the news that major employers are tightening recruitment to only the best, that is to say, if you have a 2:2 or below, you’d be best to apply elsewhere.

Let’s put this into perspective. Two years ago you could count amongst your competition only 37 other graduates for your ideal job. So what does this mean? You should go to a respected university, you need a 2:1, but above all you need work experience, real-life experience, travel experience, farming experience, first-aid training and a knack for untwisting lids off jam jars.

I didn’t need to know the statistics, it hit home for me as my mother thoughtfully inquired as to the plans of my recently graduated friends. Unfortunately only two were going on to a guaranteed job in their chosen fields: and one of them was going to work in a family business. The other managed a 2:1 at our fabulous management school, and speaks around five languages, was the president of a society and a leader of another entrepreneur project. It’s understandable to be filled with a little worry as you discuss with a rather disappointed friend their inability to even secure a job in retail… but how will next year’s statistics go? Will we still be feeling the pinch from a few years of frozen recruitment or must the situation surely be better?

After such a serious recession, it’s natural that graduates be hit hard, and for a sustained period of time. What is concerning is the general lack of even unskilled jobs to tide over graduates until their job market picks up. Having applied for bar work this summer I can imagine their position. It is a little embarrassing to hand over a CV dutifully amended so that your QC barrister reference details are omitted, and work in Pizza Hut gets more page space than your degree results break down.

So for those on 2:1s who are already being turned down, the only advice to give is to take up extra curricular activities and apply for work experience. It’s the only thing to set you apart from the rest. Even a part time job in term time will look great to employers, it shows time management and a work ethic. But getting involved in societies is even better, if you can get an exec position you are well on your way to the perfect CV. Work experience is usually unpaid, but it’s better to do it now while you have your loan to rely on. However the National Union of Students is currently battling against the unforeseen dangers of overly-keen students desperate for work experience being taken advantage of- those that complete longer unpaid internships which transpire to be unpaid indefinitely.

Applying to a firm which has details of you on file is extremely useful; it’s a foot in the door for those of us not quite privileged to have a designer leather-clad foot in the door thanks to our connections, family or private schooling. It’s arguably the toughest time graduates have ever had, but it’s not all bad news! It means hard work to compete against the rest in a market that is reportedly going to take longer than expected to recover, but imagine the self-satisfaction when you successfully do so. It will be what we can complain about to our grandkids, at the very least.

[pull name=”Stephanie Hole” title=”Lancaster graduate, July 2010″]I was really pleased to graduate with a 2:1 in Biomedical Science. I started looking for work early on in my third year and got increasingly concerned at the lack of graduate jobs on the table. I sort of forgot about it and dealt with exams, but now they’re over I am back home and struggling to secure a job. I prefer lab work, but all of my researches have been unsuccessful.

I am willing to travel further afield and invest in a car, but until I get even a menial job I cannot justify such indulgences. I’m even having trouble finding a retail job, and I am considering a masters. Hopefully more education and specialisation will make me more competitive in my field, but there is much uncertainty at the moment.[/pull]

[pull name=”Ben Showell” title=”Lancaster graduate, July 2010″]I’m not really that hopeful about getting a full time job in the sector that I want; the environment sector. At least not in the near future anyway. I’ve been pretty disheartened really; someone on my course (who got a 2:1) has applied for over 45 jobs and has got nothing from any of them. As I only got a 2:2 I feel as though I’ve got even less chance, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying any time soon!

I have a job for two months over the summer working a lab, where I’ve worked before. They might extend my stay there, but this depends on many factors, including their workload. I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone who has had no work experience perviously, I’m pretty lucky in that respect. I will try to get job seeker’s allowance until I find something more permanent.[/pull]


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