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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

SIX MONTHS: the average time it takes for a graduate to find a job in the current climate

Half of new graduates say it’s taken them over six months to find professional employment since leaving university, a new survey reveals.

The poll, conducted by staffing firm Walters People, found that 50% of graduates who studied post pandemic (2020-23) stating that they were unable to secure relevant work experience whilst studying, with a further 27% stating that what they found was only for a short-term basis (1-6 months).  

But those who have graduated in the last 12 months feel that their new graduate-status hasn’t earnt them much bargaining power on the jobs market – with 72% feeling that they don’t have ‘much of an edge’ on candidates who did not go to university.

Rip-off courses

A startling 45% of recent grads don’t think their degree has armed them with the skills necessary to be successful in the current jobs market – with almost 20% believing that work experience would have been more useful.

Earlier this year the government revealed plans to crack down on what they deem to be ‘rip-off degrees’ – categorised as those with a high drop-out rate or having a low proportion of students finding a professional job after graduating.

However, findings from the Walters People research has established that the struggle to find a job was across the board from graduates – and not those from a select few university courses – begging the question; what’s to blame for over half of graduates struggling to find professional employment – ‘rip-off’ degrees or a difficult jobs market?

Janine Blacksley, director of Walters People said: “New graduates are entering the most challenging jobs market seen in close to a decade – a mixture of less vacancies, salaries that don’t match the cost-of-living, and high competition bought about by access to remote & global talent – is certainly playing a part in the time it takes new graduates to find a suitable job role.

“Added to that, we have seen a trend emerge amongst Gen Z’s who – potentially having witnessed their parents or older siblings work in a pre-pandemic corporate world – now place much more emphasis on the enjoyment of their job, the values and purpose of the company, as well as well-being and work-life balance – which is all leading to a longer time being spent on the job hunt.”

Dwindling market value

Over a third (39%) of graduates now think their degree isn’t at all valued by the market, with a further 19% feeling it isn’t as valued as they expected. And they may not be wrong.

According to research from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), the proportion of companies requiring at least a 2:1 qualification from graduates fell below 50% for the first time last year. New data from LinkedIn illustrates a +90% increase in the share of UK job postings that do not require a university degree at all.

In fact, the likes of Kellogg’s, Google, EY, IBM and BBC have dropped their traditional requirements for being degree educated – and with increasing prominence being placed on diversity, more companies are recognising that they are able to attract candidates from varying socio-economic backgrounds if they do not put an undergraduate degree as a requirement.   

Janine added: “The purse strings are indeed being tightened by companies – which in turn means there is less to spend on training, and so for companies work experience is far more attractive than a graduate with a degree & no experience.  

“With the market being as fragile as it is, employers are on the lookout for professionals that have the ability to hit-the-ground-running, rather than needing their hand holding”.

Degrees not matching jobs

Of those graduates who have found employment, over half (53%) have said that it isn’t at-all related to their degree.

Janine added: “Whilst it is becoming common for graduates to start roles in positions unrelated to the field which they studied – doubt is being cast over the suitability of many degrees given the cost it now takes to attend university.

“Unfortunately this is leading to a significant number of graduates having to rethink their entire career trajectory in order to secure employment.”


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