Graduates deserve better treatment in job market
SWIRLING snow and biting cold greeted those honoured at the University of Derby's annual graduation ceremony as they left the Assembly Rooms.
Let us hope that does not prove too prophetic for them as they aim to embark on careers in an economy which seems to have been in its own relentlessly bitter chill winter for some years.
There are monthly upbeat noises made about the prospects of an upturn and of companies taking on more staff in the next 12 months.
But there is no getting away from the national statistics which paint a gloomy picture of graduates struggling to get even a first foot on the employment ladder.
It was revealed at Christmas that about 40% of university leavers fail to get what might be described as a "graduate job" within two years.
And about one in 12 were still without any work within six months of leaving, despite considerable numbers having to take on low-skilled jobs such as shelf-stacking or office "go-fors" in their quest for a salary.
The current circumstances of Paul Bensley, the Belper job-hunter just featured in our We Want To Work campaign, perfectly illustrates the quandary faced by many.
He graduated last year from Sheffield Hallam University with a 2:1 in accounting and financial management.
Since then, he has been unable to find work with any accounting firm – and, because of that, he cannot carry on with his professional qualifications.
His main stumbling block has been that many of the firms which advertise are seeking people with practical work experience.
That makes it the classic "chicken and egg" poser for him and thousands of others.
To make matters worse for the 25-year-old, he has been prepared to lower his sights but still cannot secure a full-time job anywhere.
"No-one will take me on because they see how qualified I am with my degree. They think I'm not going to stay for very long."
Over-qualified and under-qualified. What a crazy situation.
Firms are not charities when it comes to choosing who to employ.
But there has to be some merit, surely, in taking on uni leavers desperate to impress and build up skills and experience which could be invaluable to the firm in years to come?
And the problem of graduates bidding for jobs without relevant experience could also be eased if more companies were prepared to offer places on a sandwich course while students are still at university.
Everyone can be a winner in those circumstances.
The firm and the student get an extended look at each other and so there is less of the "unknown" if the possibility arises of a full-time job later.