The Graduate Job Nightmare

Are we really that “employable?”


I don’t know about you lot but recently I’ve been asked what I’m going to do when I graduate almost daily. And apparently the answer “curl up in the foetal position under my duvet and never have to enter the real world” doesn’t count. . . 

Realistically what I’m going to do is get a menial job that I could’ve done as a school-leaver while sending off hundreds of applications to graduate positions. If I’m lucky I’ll hear back from a handful, and if I’m persistent hopefully I’ll get a foot on the ladder in a couple of years. But it hasn’t always been like that; back in the 70s when my mum graduated having a degree made her a sought-after candidate and she could take her pick of offers. So what’s changed?

You don’t need a degree to sell cars

Well at the end of the 90s Tony Blair said he wanted to get 50% of young people into Uni. But the fact is that half of the jobs out there don’t need a degree. You don’t need a degree to sell cars, deliver post or make clothes. But we need those people – the world can’t function without them. So we’ve got too many people graduating, expecting highly skilled positions, and there just aren’t enough for them all.

The world of work’s changing too. We’re not just competing with other graduates anymore. We have to compete with people who have been working their way up since they left school, and who have years of experience under their belt. Unless you’re doing a sandwich course the chances are you’ve never had a 9-5 job for longer than a summer holiday and now that pretty much everyone is tech-savvy, age isn’t a barrier. To employers, age = experience, and that’s what we’re lacking.

Plus a lot of these people have some savings behind them and can afford to take unpaid internships or training schemes, which companies love in times of recession like this. How can we compete with that? Add in the bilingual graduate applicants from all over Europe and it’s not surprising we’re fighting 50 people for each graduate job.

And we’re not prepared for these jobs like people who have worked or studied in Europe. Most of us struggle to wake up for a 9 o’clock lecture, and we’re well aware that we’ll probably get away with not going. NEWSFLASH: In the real world you have to go to work every day, and your boss notices if you don’t!

So what are my solutions? Quality over quantity. Fewer Universities, fewer graduates, and going back to the days of on-the-job training for things like sodding Golf Management… Of course, it’s too late for us all, so good luck with the job hunting. I’ll be under my duvet in the foetal position.