Students at universities in the United Kingdom will, at some point, read an article that screeches about how bad their chances at getting a job after graduation are. Most of the time, these articles need to be read through eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Some will bombard readers with an array of different percentages and numbers that have been copied and pasted from reports written by the Office of National Statistics, and some of them will attempt to convince students that going to University is an absolutely terrible idea in the first place.
I was briefly alarmed by some of these articles until I read a letter written by Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, the president of Universities UK. He, sensibly, argued that most of these terrifying figures are taken from a very tiny 'snapshot' of a six-month period after graduates have left University. In a much broader time-frame, around two-three years, graduate unemployment stands at a very small 3.1%.
As a period of time, 'a few years' may seem like a despairingly long stretch to be able to take solace in the fact that most graduates are actually working, but considering the turbulent and uneasy job market of the past few years, these figures can be quite comforting. And in recent months, graduate employment embarked on a turn-around, with more places opening up for University leavers at 'prestigious' employers. Huge companies take on swathes of graduates every year, especially when they can prove themselves to be hard-working and committed individuals.
These fact-revealing and panic-inducing articles seem to imply that getting a degree is like a golden ticket to employment, and when there is no employment at the end of the three years of studying, the University system has failed.
What they don't take into account is the fact that a degree is only a small part in what makes a graduate employable. Hard work and an unbridled dedication to finding a job goes a long way into allowing graduates to land their ideal career as soon as they leave, and this is a personal issue for which graduates are solely responsible.
It might take five months or twelve months for a graduate to find a job and kick-start their career, but really that's irrelevant. What matters is the fact that the jobs are - usually - better in many ways for a degree-holding graduate. This can mean a better salary, more chance for significant promotion or perhaps even the chance to work in different locations around the world. Holding out for the perfect job is not a bad thing.
Whatever the reason might be that makes the ideal job so tempting, a graduate will be in a very solid position of getting it but it might just take time. Patience in this job market will always pay off. Just because six months down the line a graduate is still unemployed says, in real terms, very little about the use of a degree.
These articles highlight an issue that is resolving as the economy improves and, in most cases, don't apply to an individual graduate anywhere in the country. These unemployment figures deal with students as an enormous body, and graduates who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and work hard at being that tiny bit more employable will always find themselves in the role of their professional dreams. (Perhaps even within 6 months after graduating. Isn't that something?)
As daunting as graduate unemployment figures sometimes are, the situation isn't as woefully desperate as you might believe.