Getting a job is tough, there is no doubt about it. When we started our journeys as naive first year undergraduates, we might have thought a degree would open all the doors for our dream career. It’s obviously not that simple. But it’s certainly not all bad news. Research conducted by High Fliers (student and graduate recruitment research company) indicates that availability of graduate jobs is up by 8.7% in 2014. This is the highest it has been since the beginning of the recession. Yet if you ask most graduates, you’ll find they are still having difficulties starting careers, especially within their chosen disciplines. The job market with the highest vacancies this year is IT, though this is certainly not the most popular degree subject. This simply means that graduates should keep open minds about career paths, especially those who have studied in non career-specific areas. A high percentage of graduates end up in jobs which have no real relation to what they studied at university and had you asked them three years earlier, they probably would never have dreamed they would be working in the sectors that they are.
Whether or not graduates end up in the jobs they expected, the numbers are still positive. The last year saw 92.1% of graduates in the UK in employment or in further education (Higher Education Statistics Agency). The Times published a list the same year of top 100 graduate employers which included the NHS as well as Barclays and Morrisons. This year the top graduate employer is Teach First, an organisation which allows graduates to train on the job. The scheme was featured recently in BBC 2’s Tough Young Teachers series and has become an increasingly popular option among aspiring teachers.
In terms of the likelihood of attaining graduate jobs, we have always been led to believe that a degree from a chart topping University like Oxford or Cambridge would put is in the greatest stead. The Telegraph would disagree, placing Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen as the best University for graduate jobs with 97.7% of its graduates in higher education or employment. Bearing in mind it is likely that the degrees and qualifications offered are likely to be highly vocational, it is almost certainly still a shock to graduates from Russell Group universities who are desperately searching for jobs this summer.
But, one thing to keep hold of is that University is not all about the end result. University is about the whole experience. The learning experience, the social experience and learning to depend on oneself. Generally, in the time it takes to complete an undergraduate degree (mostly three or four years), you’ll learn a great many things which have nothing to do with academia. University, in this sense, is a great formative bridge between school and an independent career. And of course work experience is also vital in terms of finding a job as well as non-academic experience.
As it stands, nothing will guarantee you a job but hard work and a good mindset will just bring you that much closer.