27/07/2012 08:47 BST

Jobcentres Telling Graduates To Dumb Down CVs, CAS Finds

Jobcentres in Scotland are telling graduates to dumb down their CVs in order to secure "survival" jobs such as cleaning, a report has revealed.

Nearly 80% of graduates said the Jobcentre had been unhelpful in finding a graduate level job, while 64% said the centres were unhelpful in assisting them with finding any jobs at all.

"I felt like I had to dumb down my qualifications in order to find a job through the Jobcentre. I wasn't prepared to do this and was not made to feel comfortable as a result."

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The damning Degrees of Insecurity report, compiled by Citizens Advice Scotland, found there are "high levels of frustration and disillusionment amongst graduates that the time, money and effort they have spent obtaining a degree is ‘wasted’ when they cannot secure employment in a relevant field". One Art History graduate recalled how it was suggested their qualification and level of education served as a deterrent to possible future employers.

The majority of graduates questioned felt Jobcentres are not set up to deal with graduates, with many university leavers feeling they had been "forced" into applying for positions which they are over-qualified for and may have little relevance to their degrees.

Only 1% said the Jobcentre service had been helpful in finding a degree-level job.

"At the group meetings we were encouraged to leave any degree off the CV to help us find more plentiful unskilled work. Nobody would employ me as a cleaner if I had a degree. I was told to stop looking for graduate work and take a 'survival' job."

25-year-old Law graduate

Despite the case studies, the survey has been deemed "statistically invalid" but the director of Universities Scotland, Alastair Sim, who said the report had been "unashamedly targeted at graduates who have struggled to find work".

"It is completely unrepresentative of the graduate population as a whole and paints a far more negative picture than is actually the case."

He emphasised 93% of Scotland's graduates progress to "positive destinations" within six months of leaving university

But many university leavers also felt employers were denying them opportunities and citing a lack of experience as the reason for not employing them, with one describing a degree as a "blank colouring-in book".

Another graduate recounted the inconsistent service at one centre, with some advisers "genuinely keen" to help, while others "barely talk to me, I'm just there to sign my name and leave".

In addition, the survey, which questioned 954 graduates, found from school through to university there is a general lack of focus on:

  • Alternatives to going to university
  • General employability skills and experience that will be required in the work place
  • Exploring the transferrable skills which students have gained at university

The CAS has recommended universities ensure employability skills are a core part of course curriculums, with a focus on how to create more employable graduates.

In response to the survey, a Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "There's lots of help out there for jobseekers, including young people and graduates. Jobcentre Plus advisers can help with skills and training, work experience is available for those who need it and the New Enterprise Allowance helps claimants set up their own business."

Since 2008 unemployment rates of 16-24 year-olds in Scotland has risen from 55,000 to 100,000.

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