Upon finishing my A Levels I was sold on the idea, like many of my peers were, that heading to university was the right direction to go, a step that would take me towards a rewarding career. It seemed almost alien if you opted not to go- after all; a degree was the pathway to a guaranteed job. A year after graduating I'm confident I have a wealth full of knowledge, in some areas at least, but not much wealth lining my pockets.
I feel strongly about the current set-up for graduate job seekers in the UK and feel that the idea of 'one size fits all' isn't working in terms of job seekers benefit entitlement. With graduates fast becoming the highest number of unemployed Brits it seems that the issues need to be addressed- and fast.
Although graduates are now aware that their degree alone will not suffice they are being pressured into taking irrelevant or lesser roles instead of work experience or internships due to lack of money.
Therefore many unemployed graduates are faced with no option but to join the doldrums of the dole queue to fund themselves whilst hunting for a job.
You would assume that the job centre and the government are supposed to encourage your search for work weather it is permanent, temporary or even training to aid your ultimate goal of finding a permanent position. But, here's the catch.
A recent news story documented a graduate who was forced to turn down relevant work experience that she had voluntarily arranged in order to work at Poundland for her Job Seeker's claim to stay validated. Finally the massive flaw in the system is clear for all to see! I thought everybody would be appalled, the government would be left red-faced and companies would at least try and offer some money for internships realising that they may be letting talented grads slip through their fingers. But it seems that this debacle has come to no avail.
In fact, it is little documented that if you agree to do an internships or work experience for even just a week- no matter how beneficial it may be-you are no longer entitled to benefits. You can however take on work experience suggested to you by the Job Centre, for example, a position in a supermarket or similar. Which begs the question how on earth are graduates supposed to gain relevant experience and still manage to survive?
If companies continue to pay little or nothing for their time as interns and the government aren't willing to fund them whilst they at least try to secure contacts, experience and the potential of a job offer at the end it seems there is a vicious circle that graduates are bound to get stuck in. When job-hunting for almost any job, including trainee and assistant roles you'll see in the job description that some relevant experience is necessary. Doesn't the ban on work experience encourage people to continue claiming job seekers without looking to seek their full potential?
The work experience positions offered by the job centre are not permanent and you do not receive anything extra on top of your dole money. Which means that the companies who run this scheme in conjunction with the government, including: Tesco; Asda and Poundland to name but a few, do in fact have vacancies that they are reserving for the cheap and temporary labour of JSA claimers. Surely these temporary 'positions' should be made into actual job vacancies more suited to someone who is not looking for a specific career.
After years in education with countless teachers assuring you that good qualifications and ultimately a degree- whichever subject you choose- will be the difference between just any job and the job you want. You can't help but feel you were tricked into an idea that no longer exists.
Now, I'm not suggesting that graduates are entitled to discard every opportunity; I'm simply suggesting that it is more than likely that they are people who have strived to achieve a specific job in a specialised field.
Some sources have argued that any type work for a graduate is good as it enables them to get into the working-world ethos. However, I know many graduates who have already shown tremendous work ethic by staying motivated and studying for years. Furthermore, I and many other graduates have had jobs throughout our teenage and university years. I am familiar with the working world and sometimes quietly think to myself I have indeed earned the right to attempt to find a career that surpasses that of what I undertook when I was sixteen. Although, that may be my years of subtle propaganda from teachers creeping in again.