Graduate Jobs piece

Getting a graduate job is the bane of existence for many final year students including myself. Getting rejected after going through dozens of time consuming online judgements tests and interviews is tough to take and leaves you feeling like there isn’t much hope left for your future. I’ve been in that position for the last few months where every graduate scheme or job I apply for seems like a never ending blackhole with no acceptance in sight. This worry for your future becomes even worse when newspapers are publishing articles regularly with titles such as ‘UK employers will offer fewer entry level jobs in 2020, figures suggest’ (Makortoff K, The Guardian, 2020).

This kind of article is worrying, particularly for final year students like myself who know exactly how difficult it is to find a graduate job in a saturated market and just how competitive these jobs already are. The article uses research from the Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) whose data found that recruiters were failing to hit their target’s by around 3% last year and this points to a potential stagnation across the jobs market and a slowdown of hiring school leavers in the months ahead.

The matter of stagnation in the market isn’t the only issue though according to Makortoff. She states that ‘many of the jobs created in the UK over the past decade are too senior for students fresh out of school or university’. Most of the jobs on offer are professional with around 500,000 low skilled jobs available out of 3.4 million compared to 2.5 million senior/professional jobs. (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/jan/06/uk-employers-fewer-entry-level-jobs-2020-survey)

But is this prediction of 2020 true? or am I just very unlucky in the graduate jobs market? I decided to investigate this issue of graduate jobs being in decline as well as graduates not moving jobs once they have found one. In order to do this, I did some interviews with students as well as economist Dr Balázs Muraközy.

I first interviewed final year students largely studying humanity subjects in the Sydney Jones Library based at the center of the University of Liverpool campus. Believe it or not, it wasn’t hard to find students struggling to find something to do after graduation. In fact, the first two students I spotted who featured in our radio segment had been talking about their struggles before I’d even come over to them. I interviewed 10 people in total and the answers from the students I interviewed were almost unanimous with 9 out of the 10 people saying that they have been rejected from two or more graduate jobs with one student studying history having been rejected from over 20!
Another unanimous trait was the belief that doing a masters was the only way to counteract the difficulties of trying to get a graduate job and more than one student told me that graduate schemes for the area they wanted to go into didn’t even exist.

But is this something we need to worry about? I interviewed Dr Balázs Muraközy to find out. His research is currently with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and development on the relationship between age and productivity, the research is only in the initial stages but points to a positive relationship between age diversity and productivity of businesses. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1748-8583.12011). Dr Muraközy says that young people will always be needed in industry and emphasizes the cyclical nature of this change rather than It being a long-term trend saying that students don’t need to worry about this as it may just be a trend that some companies are not able to invest currently but will be able to in the future.

I wanted to end this piece on a positive note. So far, I have spoken about the difficulties of finding a graduate job, the fact that competition may increase as employers reduce their graduate recruitment numbers and that students are worried about this future. But there is hope I assure you! there are services that can help with your job search and advise you on what you can do to better your chances in an interview or application. You could go and pay a visit to your academic advisor or speak to a recent graduate for example. I decided to pay a visit to the career’s office and interviewed Paul Gratrick about the worries surrounding third year students.

Paul insisted that it was normal to want to do a masters and pointed to the seasonality in graduate jobs market. He pointed out that a lot of graduate recruiters start searching for graduates again around graduation time so there are still options left. He also said that around 50% of applications get rejected for silly things that we can change for example spelling.

I asked him about the recent articles stipulating that graduates aren’t moving around as often as they used to. He told me that around 69% of graduates will stay in the region they are from and that most graduates will never work in London. Paul sits on the ISE research board and said that the study they did (in The Guardian article cited above) only accounted for a small proportion of companies that recruit graduates and that 20-25% of students go on to further study and more graduates are opening their own companies.

When asked about what the careers office could do to help students, Paul told me that The University of Liverpool has the first ever career studio introduced in the UK with career coaches. It is drop-in service for any student to go to for help with anything from applications to not knowing what you want to do. So, please go and pay them a visit if you are worried and need some guidance.

The final person I spoke to for this piece was Hannah, a politics graduate from 2016. I wanted to get a recent graduate’s perspective on this issue so reached out to her and she was happy to tell me her story in the hope that it will help others who are in a similar situation. She said that it was a struggle to find a job and that she didn’t actually start her graduate job until February 2017.
She said that in the time between university and finding a job she kept her barista job to ensure a steady income. Hannah told me that she definitely experienced the desire to give up as did many of her friends and that this wasn’t helped by the fact that she wasn’t 100% sure what she wanted to do. She stated that particularly with humanity degrees like politics, it is harder to find something than when you are in a set field as there isn’t a clear-cut option of what you should do for a career. She recalled that one of her friends that did the course ended up as a wedding planner! Hannah went into the private healthcare profession for her graduate job and said it gave her invaluable experience.

Hannah’s story really spoke to me as someone who is struggling currently to find a graduate job. Her resilience to keep trying to find a job that suited her and her ability to pick herself up even when she felt like giving up is something that is universal when experiencing rejections and trying to find where you fit in the world of work. It might take time and you might see no light at the end of the tunnel at times but there are many other people in the same position and whether it takes 1 year or 10 years, you will find something eventually.

Written by Megan Lyon
13/02/2020

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