University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

The prospect of graduating

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Jan 26, 2009

As I began writing this I receive a text from my boyfriend. “My Mum has just suggested I get some training as a plumber. ‘It could be fun…’ God help me”.

He graduated last year, a 2.1 in English from UCL, with a second year internship at a big company under his belt. He has been living in London and since graduation has made hundreds of applications to a variety of weird and wonderful roles.

He is now sending out on average a hundred per week. He ended up working at Foxtons for a while, as an estate agent. Not so bad considering the current job market? It worked out less than minimum wage. A six day week working from 8am until 8pm. Would he not be better off getting a job in McDonalds? Gordon Brown seems to think so. The only thing Mr Brown can think to do to soften the blow for us, ‘the crunch generation’ is apprenticeships.

The biggest company involved in the government’s new apprenticeship scheme is Maccy D’s- the very same fate we trudged off to University to avoid under the instruction of our wise parents and government. Have we been left, the worst victims of the recession so far? – Cheap labour?

There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately about us. The news is not good. One in six graduate jobs has been cut, those in the city by 47%.

If you’re one of the many hard working graduates that had your heart set on earning big money, filled out long applications and prettified your CV, the likelihood of you attaining what you have been promised has now halved. Most graduates of last year, unless they already had something lined up have found it almost impossible to get a job. With so many redundancies graduates are competing with people who have already been doing the job for years. Together with the massively decreased number of positions available has made for a rough time to say the least. Things are apparently set to get worse.

I got distracted researching this, media coverage made me stop writing the article and start making job applications!

Most graduate schemes are already full. Recruitment experts are saying we should be applying for jobs now. Is it all bad news for us? Apparently yes.

Some ‘Experts’ are suggesting going on to do postgraduate study. Not only will this apparently take the pressure off the strained job market but we will all end up enriched with new skills that will help us look shiny and attractive to prospective employers. Okay, love to, who would not like to stay a student for as long as possible. But where do the experts think the extra £3-5,000 will come from? I’ve just spent £20,000 on a degree, and that figure is increasing by a minimum of £1000 every year. All that ‘good debt’ is not going to get any smaller; adding to it is pretty much out of the question for a lot of people.

This means that people with parents who can afford to support them through difficult times, or fund post grad study will be in far better position than those who cannot and have and will have greater freedom of choice over what they go into. It sounds obvious, but I was under the impression that attaining a degree was an opportunity to close the gap between the privileged and those without the breaks; finally those with the same degrees would be on a level playing field. Not so.

Apparently with all the redundancies being made more companies are taking on graduates for unpaid work experience. Great for the CV, and those that can afford to work for free. Companies now get not just get qualified cheap labour, but free labour. This is not right.

According to government research a long stint of unemployment can affect a graduate’s long term career prospects. Being out of work makes you less employable, and effects how much you earn in the long term. In our desperate times budget supermarket Aldi are upping their recruitment drive by 50% in an attempt to hook new graduates.

Thinking of staying in Brighton after graduation? Maybe a little more thought is needed. Brighton is one of the three cities in Britain most affected by the recession. With graduate opportunities thin on the ground as it is, you may be better off taking your chances in the city.

According to our government, as a workforce us graduates are very mobile so will have far less problems moving to where the work is. Just exactly where is that, Mr Brown?

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