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The Credit Crunch: making bad news into moderately good news

Amid the growing economic unrest, most of the national newspapers have been bombarding  the public with news concerning the probability of getting a graduate job, which is reported to be at its lowest level of the last two decades. Furthermore, it has been revealed in many a newspaper that a most recent labour market survey has found that unemployment rates are growing fastest among 18 to 24 year olds, informing that unemployment among young adults was at a level of 597,000 in October 2008 and in a time scale of three months has risen by 55,000 by July 2008.

Another recent survey that has come to light in many national newspapers is a survey conducted by High Flyers Research, which specialises in the graduate recruitment sector, and included 100 top employers, which has shown that graduate vacancies are down 17 per cent, with most vacancies for 2009 already filled. Many have noted that jobs have been scaled back on from last year when Graduate recruitment fell by 6.7 per cent. Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research comments that “there is understandable panic on campus that this is shaping up to be one of the worst years of the last two decades to be graduating from university.” He further comments that ‘many of last year’s entry level jobs did not materialise leaving many graduates from the class of 2008 without work too’, “this is causing a surge in applications from students desperate to secure a position”.

For students still at university, they still have not escaped the black cloud that the media has shrouded the world with. It has been reported that there are still detrimental impacts of the credit crunch on students, particularly evident in part time vacancies necessary for additional living costs. The NUS President Wes Streeting has commented that “it isn’t just graduate jobs which are at risk from the credit crunch. Many students have to work part time to finance their studies, and we may see more of them having to drop out if they lose these jobs.”

Although the picture appears to be bleak, in an interview with The Badger, Linda Buckham, the director of CDEC (Career Development & Employment Centre) rejects the national press’s overtly negative angle. She comments: “sadly the national media have gone on a gloom-fest, I have never seen anything quite like it.” She has seen a few depressions before this one, particularly in the 1980s which have “heightened people’s game, and made people think much more strategically.”

She advises to take an alternative outlook on the current economic situation, and comments that the recession is a means of “exploring what is right for you individually”, she comments: “it is a great chance to show what an enterprising person you are, for example if you can’t get a job in the first two terms of university, go to V project instead and do some volunteering which will ultimately improve your CV and employability further along the line.” She suggests that it may be a time to change aims : “it might mean taking a slightly different route, but you don’t need to lose any ambition.”

CDEC has, however seen a decline in the number of part time jobs, and she comments that  it is ‘an area we are working on currently’, but gives advice not to send out numerous amounts of ‘bland’ applications which can result in apathy and demoralisation when no response is made. She says that “it is now necessary, in a recession climate to tailor applications to specific job sectors and it is about getting applications out really quickly.”

It is not just a problem of students being unable to gain part time jobs, but a matter of keeping ones. The Badger spoke to Emma Rees, a third year student at Sussex who says that she has lost her job due to the recession, and is still currently owed money by her employers. She further comments that “it is quite a lot harder to get part time work at the moment because all businesses are cutting back – part time student jobs are not a major priority”, and the “Saturday job girls” are the “bottom of the pile.” Another student at Sussex who previously worked at a boutique store in Brighton was told that because of the current financial climate she was to be let go. She comments: “That kind of money keeps you afloat, and now I have to go a lot more into my overdraft than before.” Two first year students confirm this when they comment that they handed out lots of CVs “not even to supermarkets, just small independent stores’ and have had ‘an absolute 0 response.”

CDEC held a session last week ‘Finding work in a Recession’ and are holding a further one on 25th February. More information and how to sign up is available on the CDEC website (www.sussex.ac.uk/cdec/events). There is an Online blog on the CDEC website where top ten tips for graduate job seekers has been posted. In the career doctor section of The Badger there will be tips to finding jobs in the recession published next week. CDEC are more than happy to help any students having problems and urge them to come and see them for advice.

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