Being a fourth and final year student has its ups and downs, and perhaps none more so than the tiresome hunt for something to do come September. Amidst endless essays, exams and of course the dreaded dissertation, students are expected to complete seemingly endless graduate scheme applications, all vying for either the perfect job, a decent job, ANY job or that internship, which although unpaid, will surely lead to bigger and brighter things.
Everyone who has applied for graduate schemes will have had to experience the vacuous questions like, "Why do you want to be a blah blah blah" or "Why do you want to be in our company". The truth is, for many I imagine like me, is, "I want to work for company X because such is the state of the graduate job market, I have to apply for a generic industry as anything remotely niche has zero entry-level jobs, and at the end of the day, with X amount of debts from student loans, I need a decent living wage".
Now of course, this is not your response. Your response probably feigns passion for the job at hand, whilst also attempting to stand out from a massive pool of people applying for said job.
So now I hear you say, "Where does the UK government come into this?" The UK government has failed young people consistently over the last twenty years from constantly changing the education system to failing to provide adequate alternatives to university. Labour's 50% target for university has been an absolute disaster, which although noble, has devalued the degree, racked up significant student debt, and worsened university education as a whole. In addition to this, many vocational degrees are seemingly unnecessary where apprenticeships might better serve, saving student debt as well as helping to stagger entry into the job markets.
Coupled with this has been the UK's unprecedented over-reliance on the financial services industry, leaving a very stale job market. Moreover, those looking to apply in fields they feel passionately about but are niche, find very few jobs but many more unpaid internships. The government needs to take a strong stance on unpaid internships; they have become too commonplace and they mercilessly exploit young graduates desperately seeking permanent positions who are convinced the internship will lead to brighter prospects. Having myself experienced this last summer, where not only was I not paid, I was not paid expenses, it is time for a stringent law against these immoral practices (I recently learnt that unpaid internships may be against EU laws, even if you are contractually a "volunteer", if there is a expectation for you to work a normal working day).
Now comes the controversial suggestion. The UK is a massively ageing population, and whilst I am not advocating letting grannies freeze to death, there does need to be a redistribution of money from somewhere towards providing young people with opportunities. Young people are ultimately the future drivers of an economy and we should be investing in their future, whilst attempting to diversify our economy.
It's not fun being candidate #3228 out of 10,000 when applying for a graduate scheme, hoping to stand out from the crowd, desperately seeking a job, but ultimately a small few changes here and there would help to drastically improve the graduate job situation.