Why your child is struggling to get a graduate job [and why you didn’t] 

Apr 11, 2024

The job market has undergone seismic shifts over the past few decades, transforming the journey to secure a graduate job into an uphill battle for most graduates. This struggle starkly contrasts with the experiences of previous generations. So, why are today’s graduates finding it increasingly challenging to step onto the career ladder, while their parents navigated this passage with seemingly less difficulty? We explore the reasons why in this post. 

The Surge in University Attendees

The root of today’s job market dilemma can be traced back to the late 1990s. Following Tony Blair’s ambitious pledge to see 50% of young people attend university, the UK saw a significant surge in the number of university attendees. This initiative aimed at enhancing job prospects, boosting salaries, and improving social mobility. However, it inadvertently led to an increase of graduates competing for a finite number of graduate roles, disturbing the once-balanced ratio of graduates to available positions.

Euan Blair, Tony Blair’s eldest son, represents a poignant counter-narrative to his father’s vision. Advocating for apprenticeships, Euan believes that not all school leavers, including the academically gifted, should pursue university education. This stance highlights the growing recognition of the value of vocational training and its role in preparing the youth for the job market. However, a recent survey revealed that 85% of underemployed graduates admitted needing work experience before entering the workplace. 

International Students and the Job Market

The UK’s appeal as a global education hub, attracting 350,000 non-EU students annually, adds another layer of complexity to the graduate job market. While these students contribute significantly to the economy and the vibrancy of academic research, their desire to remain in the UK post-graduation exacerbates the competition for graduate roles. 

Impact of the Financial Crisis and the Pandemic

The 2008 financial crisis further compounded the difficulties faced by graduates. The resulting economic turmoil, particularly in southern EU countries, led to heightened youth and graduate unemployment rates, prompting many to seek opportunities in the UK. This influx of job seekers, coupled with the existing oversupply of domestic graduates, intensified competition. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges, disrupting industries, and accelerating changes in the nature of work. 

Lockdowns and economic uncertainties led to hiring freezes and reduced internship opportunities, limiting graduates’ ability to gain valuable work experience. The shift towards remote work and the rapid adoption of technology has also transformed the skills required in many roles, leaving some graduates feeling underprepared for the new job market demands. Of the 180,000 graduates employed in graduate-level jobs 90,000 were hired within the tech, digital/IT sector. 

The Academic Paradox

78% of graduates secure a 2:1 or first-class degree. However, this academic success does not translate into job market advantage as it might have in the past.

The prevalence of degrees has shifted the baseline for entry-level positions, making work experience and employability skills the new differentiators. Unfortunately, many graduates find themselves in a catch-22, possessing the requisite academic credentials but lacking the practical experience and skills demanded by employers.

The Shift in Expectations and Reality

Today’s graduate job market compared to that of a few decades ago reveals a profound transformation. 

Parents who once navigated their post-education transitions with relative ease now watch their children struggle with a vastly different set of challenges.

The oversaturation of the graduate pool, combined with the evolving demands of employers, calls for a new approach to securing graduate-level employment.

Conclusion

In summary, it is not your son or daughter’s fault that they are struggling to find employment in today’s job market. This is a problem that nearly every graduate is facing after they leave university. You can help or son or daughter by ensuring they have all the skills they need to succeed in the workplace before they leave university. You can do this by getting your child a graduate coach. Contact us by using our contact form.

Featured image by Monstera Production from Pexels

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