Is it fair of Norman Rose to label graduates as snobs for refusing menial jobs?

Sep 11, 2013

Here are five reasons why we think it isn’t

Norman Rose from the Recruitment Society says unemployed graduates who refuse to take a job just because it’s not in their field or doesn’t reflect their qualifications are “job snobs”.

With recent ONS figures showing that unemployment has risen by 15,000, leaving 973,000 young people jobless, recruitment expert Mr Rose told the Independent that “too many graduates” are unemployed because they turn down work due to “job snobbery”.

He said “graduates can’t afford to stay unemployed while they look for the perfect job to suit their skills” and that those that do are in effect saying, “I’ve got these qualifications, I’m too good”.

5 reasons why graduates who want a better job are not snobs

Reason 1:

What Mr Rose seems to be overlooking is the fact that graduates often cannot afford to take up employment in a job that doesn’t reflect their level of qualifications. The measly pay can’t cover their living expenses let alone place them in a position to begin to pay off huge student debts.

Reason 2:

Neither does Mr Rose’s criticism hold much water against graduates who cannot find a job but have degrees in subjects with no particular associated field, like the humanities, English, maths and the like, all of which can open the door to any industry. What field are they holding out for?

Reason 3:

Many graduates are already working in non-professional roles that don’t require degree. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), one third of them, with a large proportion of this number to be found in sales, customer services and elementary roles like office juniors, hospital porters, waiters and shelf-stackers. Who on earth wants to go to university for three or four years and then end up stacking shelves for Tescos – no offence to shelf-stackers but it makes little sense, doesn’t it?

Reason 4:

The million-dollar question is “Why shouldn’t a graduate expect to find the type of graduate level job they went to university in the hope of getting?” Is it fair that they should be called “job snobs” just because they would rather hold off until they get what they want?

In the Independent story, Dom Anderson of the National Union of Students gave a response that reflects our sentiments; he said it is understandable that a graduate should want to hold out for the right job. The investment of time and money a graduate and their parents make into a degree surely gives them right to expect employment that reflects that investment.

Reason 5:

The problem of unemployment is not down to graduates because we know there are jobs out there despite the challenges the economy is facing. We have previously quoted research from the Institute of Education that shows a significant rise in the number of jobs that now require a degree. More than a quarter of the jobs advertised are only open to those with a degree compared with 25 years ago during the mid 1980s when it was just one in 10.

We have also quoted research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showing that employers bemoan the fact that they can’t find the quality of employees they need. They need graduates with demonstrable skills in customer services, self-management and communication, and with attitudes that reflect enterprise, persistence and initiative.

The real reason why graduates can’t get jobs

Graduate unemployment is not the fault of those who are holding out for a job that reflects their degree or qualifications. That’s not why so many graduates are out of work. It is because the graduate market is increasingly competitive and graduates have no idea of how to successfully compete for a job having never been taught.

What the government, universities and recruitment specialists like Norman Rose should be doing is looking for ways to equip graduates with the skills they need for today’s recruitment market.

Rather than scolding graduates and labelling them as snobs because they want a better job, let’s find ways to help graduates become better equipped to a get a job that reflects the level of qualifications they have worked their socks, purses and wallets off in order to get.

That’s what we do at Graduate Coach.

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