Yet another set of facts and figures have been released commending on the apparent upturn of prospects after graduation. The survey announces that the country's top 100 largest employers has increased vacancies by 4.6%, the highest its been since 2008. These are being accounted by openings in the public sector and armed forces. Overall, the volume of graduates applying per vacancy this year has dropped from 51 to 46, edging ever closer to 2008's 35.
The news is expected to lighten to mood to students graduating around now. However the facts are often misleading and unhelpful for those that aren't quite the creme de la creme of academia. Once students have realised applications are starting to be taken at the top 100, a sinking feeling will creep into a large chunk of graduates. Companies like Microsoft, HSBC and Allen and Overy, often only recruit the very best. This leaves more and more graduates that haven't quite attained an upper-seconded stuck, not knowing what to do.
Graduates that get a classification of 2:2 or lower can often feel excluded from the graduate scheme hustle and bustle by usually being rejected at the first hurdle. There is an interesting discussion to be had on the merits and differences between 2:1s and 2:2s. To keep it brief however, I would argue that a 2:1 or higher in any subject and from any university, is the wrong way to go about recruitment and will lead to a misrepresentation of candidates. Companies, especially some of the names in the top 100, do have that the right to be picky with who they take on, its the blanket assertion that any 2:1 is the watermark of an intelligent and worthy candidate that is wrong.
I'm sure that sometimes these applications are looked over with a more human eye with university and course taken into account. But what this news should have also understood and encouraged is that its not just these 100 employers or the dole queue. The elitism around graduate schemes is a problem. While they allow you to be trained up in certain professions and companies, its not the be all and end all. Graduates are not doomed to bar work or road sweeping if they don't make the cut. Perhaps this could be linked to the high volumes of applications made to these vacancies which leads to the competition that then takes place.
More emphasis, across the board, should be placed on not going for the big companies like Nestle or Deutsche Bank, but targeting SMEs for example. Nothing against the larger corporations, but when applying for smaller organisations you are able to convey personality, skills and experience, not that you are an astute academic mind ready for moulding. Also, the opportunities aren't organised by calendar and you might have to be flexible as to the industry you go into.
It seems that now, graduates are bombarded with statistics, figures and dooming projections about graduate employment. Graduate schemes are an excellent way to get your career up and running, but more must be made of more moderate companies offering just as good opportunities.