There was once a time when being a graduate was all the rage. You had the world at your feet and you could march through any door and scream: “I have a first-class degree in engineering, now give me a job!” Admittedly, this is a little bit of an exaggeration, but the point is if you did that then they would actually give you a job. It’s not like that anymore, though.
A study from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that 10,000 new UK graduates are now working in basic jobs; which to you and me means jobs that can be done by anybody without seeds for brains. This has actually doubled in the past five years. So it shows that we are on an upward trend, and it certainly can’t be blamed on the recession.
The recession caused many people to lose their jobs and for fewer jobs to become available, but it’s not something that would have seen such a dramatic increase. Yes, young people could now find themselves competing with people with years and years of experience, but it still shouldn’t account for everything. There are other reasons, and one of these reasons could be put down to the impact that more graduates are having on the system.
There’s no getting away from the fact that there are now more graduates than ever before. The more and more people go to university the more competitive it will get. And even though the number of new university students hasn’t surged in the past few years, we have to remember that these graduates are from three years ago. That’s where there were a lot of new university students entering university. Only now are we seeing the dramatic impact of what the last government did with their silly idea of having ‘50% of all young people going to university’ targets.
So more graduates equals more competition and fewer jobs equal more competition, but is there another contributing factor? There is. And that is the number of people who lack the ‘soft’ skills required to effectively function at work. It’s great to have those academic skills, but they apply very little to the real world. University students often lack experience, which means they are forced into these jobs. And what’s more, we have to take into account the fact that a lot of these degrees are completely pointless to start with. Why would anyone other than a theatre care less about the fact you got a degree in theatre? And why would a theatre care when all they want is talented people, not those with academic qualifications?
A surge in graduates, more pointless degrees, a lack of skills applicable to the real world, and fewer jobs are all contributing to the toxic mix that we have today. At the moment there doesn’t look as if there’s a solution. All I could ever say to graduates is to keep doing those basic jobs to get the skills needed, take up some voluntary work, and never act as if your degree entitles you to anything.