THE BLOG

Graduate Employment Prospects Have Improved Despite Media Coverage

08/11/2011 23:34 | Updated 08 January 2012
  • Sheila Flavell Chief Operating Officer, Founder Director and part owner of IT services provider, FDM Group (www.fdmgroup.com).One of the Top 100 Women to Watch 2014 and Top 30 Most Inspirational Female Entrepreneurs in the City 2014.

Research conducted by the Higher Education Careers Service (HECSU) has revealed that graduate unemployment has dropped for the first time since the recession.

The HECSU's annual What Do Graduates Do? survey of graduates who had left university six months previously showed that unemployment within this group had dropped from 8.9% in 2009 to 8.5% in 2010.

Ok, so the improvement isn't exactly drastic and we shouldn't forget that graduate unemployment remains at a far higher level than it was before the recession, but we do need to take these figures as a positive sign and use them to motivate graduates and prospective students.

In a media-driven world where it seems bad news is good news, graduates are becoming increasingly disillusioned as labels including the "lost" and the "boomerang" generation are being firmly embedded in their minds.

A day hardly passes when I'm not confronted with shocking youth unemployment figures and the Press Association even used the seemingly positive results of the HECSU survey to a run a story entitled "Graduates 'struggling to find work'." In August the Office for National Statistics added fuel to the fire by revealing figures which showed that 20% of graduates earned less than the median wage of those educated to A level standard.

Is it any wonder then that graduates are taking on roles they had prior to university and living at home because they feel they can't make it alone?

It seems to be a vicious cycle without which a few national papers, who shall remain nameless, would run dry. Worryingly, the prospect of paying the equivalent of a deposit on a flat for a university education, coupled with these sensational stories also seems to be deterring school leavers from applying to university.

Anyone who hasn't heard at least one cleverly hand picked A level student speaking to the media about their rejection of a university education in favour of gaining "real life experience" must have been sunning themselves in Aruba for the passed six months, quite frankly!

In contrast to what you may have heard I would like to draw your attention to a recent study conducted by reed.co.uk which found that two thirds of the employed graduates surveyed believed their degree had played an important part in securing them their first role.

At FDM Group we firmly believe that the value of a university education should not be underestimated. We have kickstarted the careers of over 3,000 graduates to date placing them within major blue-chip companies including HSBC, RBS, Credit Suisse, BSkyB and Virgin Media. And although we have trained all of these individuals within a very specific area of IT, they would not have been able to land these roles without a university degree.

The bottom line is that the next generation of professionals may not be able to progress to senior levels without a bachelor's degree at the very least, in which case they truly would become a "lost generation". Instead of creating a cloud of pessimism around graduate job prospects and the true benefits to achieving a university degree, the media should be highlighting the opportunities currently available to graduates and the progress that is being made.

As a company that is recruiting 1,000 graduates this year alone we believe that businesses should also be recognising the need to provide graduate opportunities in an effort to support the professionals of the future and ultimately the economy as a whole.

Whilst announcing the results of the HECSU's survey the company's Deputy Researcher, Charlie Ball, echoed this belief by stating, "Slow but sustained economic recovery should be mirrored in the graduate labour market."

Frankly I couldn't agree more.