According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 22% of graduates remain unemployed 6 months after they complete their degrees. Furthermore, 15% of graduates fail to find employment in highly skilled jobs even after three and a half years.
Graduate recruitment was significantly lower in 2017, largely due to the uncertainty of Brexit, with the number of graduates being recruited by major employers falling by 5% in 2017. Additionally, 60 of the UK’s one hundred leading employers including companies such as Aldi, Amazon and Apple reduced the number of graduates they employed in 2017. However, for 2018 graduate opportunities are ‘cautiously optimistic’ according to High Fliers Research. Top employers aimed to recruit 20,277 new graduates this year.
To stand a chance in this ruthless market where graduate jobs are highly competitive there are opportunities out there that will help you stand out from the crowd. Chief executive of the Office for Students states that,
“Research shows that graduates need to take up every opportunity available to them during their time at university to help to improve their employability and to get a rewarding job.”
In recent years the number of young adults in higher education and working part-time has reduced in the UK. In 2017 the number of 18-24-year olds juggling work and academic study dropped to just 36%. A high proportion of students advise that they are too consumed by university commitments to contemplate other work. However, although I understand the struggle of university deadlines and dissertation challenges, I disagree with this based on my own personal experiences.
As a recent graduate from Heriot Watt university I successfully managed to graduate with a first-class honour’s degree, while working part-time for four years. To say it was easily manageable would be untrue, it was challenging at times, but the skills I learned were invaluable. I gained authentic industry experience that related to my course, and excellent customer service skills that are transferable to many job roles. Overall, this propelled my ability to stay ahead of the game and as a reward I achieved a graduate job straight out of university.
I strongly agree that if you show employers you can juggle university and part-time work this illustrates good time management and ambition. Both attractive qualities that prospective employers are drawn to. Chief executive of the Institute of Student Employers supports this perspective and states,
“Students should do something that shows they have drive and motivation, that shows you do more than just going to university and getting a degree…show you have grown from it.”
By developing your practical skills with extracurricular activities this will build your personal profile and help you grow as a person.
Although, many internships are unpaid they too are extremely beneficial for your CV. Students who do a work placement are more liable to get a job at the end of their probation if they make a good impression and establish a solid relationship with recruiters. Over a third of recruiters who took part in the High Fliers Research emphasise that graduates who have no previous work experience are unlikely to make it through the selection process.
80% of students felt that their gap year enhanced their employability. Travelling exposes you to different cultures and gives you time to work or volunteer. You can show that you are adaptable no matter where you are. Students may naturally develop an added maturity on their travels. Employers’ favour those who have prioritised their time to work or travel, if done right a gap year can be a life-changing experience.
Overall, the job market is in constant flux, finding employment after university is an incredibly daunting process for any graduate. To ease the uncertainty, it is in the best interest of any student to multi-task and utilise their time to the best of their ability. Whether that be part-time work or unpaid experience, the more skills and positive work-based experience you have accumulated the more you will stand out from the competition in the highly competitive graduate job market.
By Ashleigh Jane McCann
Digital Marketing Executive – City Room Rentals