Posts Tagged ‘graduates’

Counting the graduates in the dole queue, it’s clear that our system isn’t serving the young, says Claire French

21/08/2010, 10:00:02 AM

Last summer, tens of thousands of young people fresh out of school went straight onto the dole. Student loans were paid late, occasionally months after the autumn semester began. By all accounts, it’s going to be worse this year. With increased numbers of applicants and an under-cut of 10,000 university places by the coalition government, there is severe competition.

Having graduated this summer, I too am feeling the pressure of swathes of graduates leaving university with a respectable degree and no job. Finding myself with no other option than signing onto job seekers allowance while looking for employment, I find myself wondering how we have reached a state where so many young people – having attended university or not – having no other option than to look to the welfare state for help?

Higher education would supposedly become more accessible and universal after the introduction of top-top fees near the beginning of the Labour administration. In reality from applying for university places through UCAS to landing their first job – many young adults are now fighting harder than has been fought before. The threat of soaring youth unemployment is leading to what some commentators call the “lost generation”.

With the projected number of young people missing out on a university place this Thursday standing at around 150,000, it is time to seriously question the new Labour 50% university target. Educating the future workforce to a highly competitive standard is obviously important for the economy and our global position. At this time of austerity, is not feasible for hundreds of thousands of young people to be signing on to job seekers allowance because they cannot afford to take a gap year, or because they leave university with no other option.

The further education system over emphasises the importance of a university degree. The Labour party continues to predict that 40% of jobs will be filled by graduates by 2020. Those who are less than taken by the idea of being indebted suffer from the current lack of apprenticeships and unskilled work. 

An undergraduate university degree is no longer a foot-in-the-door in today’s tough labour market. As areas of the private sector begin to advertise for more graduate jobs than last year, the public sector is tightening its belt – with huge redundancies being made and cuts to department budgets around the country.

The Guardian last week reported that only “36% of final-year students expect to find a graduate-level job this summer”. High numbers of graduates from some institutions are left out of work and not in education for more than six months after leaving university (up to one in four).

For many university leavers, a degree is not enough to land a paid, graduate-level job. Employers expect candidates to have skills and knowledge that is best demonstrated through previous work experience. For individuals without well-connected parents this can be a battlefield.

Internships – an increasingly popular form of learning in the professional workplace – pose a number of problems, foremost because many remain unpaid. Firstly, the majority of placements are located in London. Secondly, the nature of ‘the internship’ is to provide free labour to an employer in return for training. For applicants who need to pay for travel, accommodation and other outgoings this poses a problem. Campaigns such as Intern Aware and Internocracy work for fairer conditions, including a wage for interns.

Worldwide, the outlook for people aged between 15 and 24 years old is bleak. The global youth unemployment rate is sitting at 13%, 81 million people in real terms. It’s a big number that we need to address, and the current system just can’t cope.

Claire French is an aspiring journalist and writes at

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Moving the goalposts on higher education will leave scars on our society, says Aaron Porter

18/08/2010, 12:30:14 PM

As A-level results day approaches it is already clear that over 150,000 students with both the grades and the desire to study at university this year will be left without a place.

Crucially, this limit on places is not one of necessity; the restrictions on university places are being achieved through an entirely arbitrary cap on student numbers which is itself being enforced through the government’s threat to fine any university which ends up oversubscribed.

Michael Brown, vice-chancellor of Liverpool John Moores university said last week that the government fines for over recruitment mean that some universities will even have empty spaces despite turning qualified applicants away, with government fines preventing universities from accounting for inevitable drop-outs before the start of term by slightly oversubscribing courses at this stage.

This is both morally unacceptable and economically short-sighted. It is morally unacceptable that students who have worked in order to achieve grades that would normally be sufficient to study at university will – for reasons entirely out of their control – find that the goalposts have been drastically moved. These young people are being denied the opportunity to study at university, with all the intrinsic value that holds, together with the increased work and career opportunities that affords.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon