Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that the number of new graduates coming out of university each year who have to take on low-skill positions, such as cleaning or bar work, has risen to 10,000, almost double that of five years ago.
With the jobs market still suffering from the economic downturn, many graduates are finding their options severely limited after they have finished their degrees. Last year, six months after graduation, 9% of all graduates had failed to find any work at all, whilst 5% were working in jobs for which they were overqualified.
The key to success for many graduates appears to be their ability to diversify. In a survey by One Poll, only a quarter of graduates believed they would find work in the field they had trained in, whilst 71% said they would apply for a wide range of jobs. Pay expectations have dropped too, with 58% saying they would work for less than £20,000 a year.
These positions are supported by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service. The president of AGCAS, Anne-Marie Martin, said “It’s important to be sensible about the state of the job market. These are challenging times for graduates, but there are jobs available […] be flexible. Have a plan B. Don’t think exclusively about large organisations.”
It’s not all doom and gloom though; Universities Minister David Willetts has attempted to put the situation into perspective: “Although the unemployment market is challenging, graduates continue to do better than non-graduates and their prospects tend to pick up more quickly during a recovery.”
Although the job market is tough, graduates still have an easier time getting jobs, reflected in the levels of unemployment amongst graduates compared to non-graduates, and both Mr Willetts and Mrs Martin emphasized the role university plays in training people for work, allowing them to build up essential skills and experience through both their course and any jobs they take on whilst completing their degree.