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The Rise of Graduate Underemployment

We've known for a while that the jobs market has been challenging for graduates, but figures recently released shed some more light on the situation of ‘underemployment'. This is where graduates are employed, but in jobs for which they don't technically need a degree.

For the graduating class of 2010/2011, over 10,000 of them are in posts that fall into this category - such as customer service roles, cleaning, carrying out odd-jobs, and labouring. This is almost double the number of grads who found themselves in ‘elementary occupations' five years ago, further highlighting the fact that recent years and economic struggles - plus growing numbers of graduates competing for jobs - have made things tougher for those after graduate level employment.

However, at least we can take some comfort from the fact that these graduates are still in work. It's thought that 9 per cent of the 2010/2011 class was unemployed six months after graduating from university. This is roughly the same amount of graduates that were unemployed the year before.

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A Third of Graduates Forced Onto Jobseeker's Allowance

Research from has revealed that a third (34%) of UK graduates have been searching for work for over six months, forcing the same percentage to claim Jobseeker's Allowance. Shockingly, almost two fifths (16%) of graduates have applied for over a hundred jobs, without success, with one quarter not managing to secure a single interview.

The difficulty in finding work has led to a significantly lower wage expectations compared to those currently at university. Today's graduates expect to earn £19,800 a year, compared to those yet to leave university who expect over £800 a year more.

However, the regular survey of graduate jobseekers has shown some improvement in the last six months. There has been a 5% drop in graduates that have been looking for work for over a year and confidence has also improved as a result. In November 2011, 19% of graduate jobseekers said that they were not at all confident of finding work in the next year. Six months later, the figure is 10%. Confidence in finding work in the next six months has remained stable.

Mike Fetters, graduate director at, said of the results:

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Global Recruitment Markets Heating up Again

According to Keith Dugdale, global recruiter for the professional services giant KPMG, global recruitment markets are recovering. Dugdale went on to explain that recruiters face a recurring challenge: to make sure the correct talent is in the right place at the right time.

"The signs are that in a number of countries market conditions are picking up, so recruitment is accelerating as well," he said. "We have moved from a point when recruitment had fallen off the agenda as a key strategic issue to it being central again."

Dugdale highlighted emerging economies like India, which have come out of the recession rapidly but now face different challenges. India has recently experienced a period of massive growth, with markets growing by 30%. This has resulted in the Indian economy needing a constant supply of fresh talent. However, due to the rapid nature of India's growth, companies are looking for skilled experienced workers as well as graduates, who are in short supply.

This is in polar opposite to China, another booming economy. Rather than having too many graduates, China struggles to recruit graduate talent. Part of the problem is that graduates from other countries are reluctant to up sticks and move due to the recession and are much more cautious when considering international assignments.

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Exploring All Career Options In A Struggling Economy

During the last few months, news headlines have been littered with bad news in regards to employment, regularly highlighting the historically high youth unemployment in the UK, which currently stands at 22%. Therefore, it is not surprising that some of this negativity has begun to filter down into the everyday concerns of young adults.

With higher education costs increasing in the UK and a growing lack of faith in the education system amongst young people, the chances are opinions will only fall further. Especially if once having completed an expensive degree, graduates are still unable to find work. However, the question remains as to whether the feelings of young people are completely accurate; does the education they receive really let them down?

First off, there are a whole host of graduate training programmes available to students who have completed degrees, especially in certain key areas, such as science, engineering and finance.

Graduate schemes provide participants with training and fast-track access to the higher ranks of the organisation. There are schemes available to graduates offered by companies operating in a variety of sectors, not just navigation. These include graduate schemes for banks, insurance companies and marketing agencies.

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Graduates Fail to Wow Recruiters

The Daily Telegraph reported last week that businesses in the UK are beginning to look towards school leavers as an alternative to recruiting graduates straight from University. The research survey carried out found that one in five recruiters prefer school leavers, believing that ‘university graduates had unrealistic expectations of working life'.

Interpersonal skills and, surprisingly, computer skills, were cited as the most common skill lacking from new graduates, along with basic numeracy and literacy skills. Instead, younger recruits coming straight from school and college were described as having a better attitude to work, timekeeping and productivity.

This is reinforced by a survey carried out by the Young Foundation; the social innovation research organisation. A study in October 2011 of big businesses in the UK including HSBC, Proctor and Gamble, Santander and KPMG found that there was common concern about the quality of graduates. Again, the skills lacking were listed as commercial awareness, written and spoken English to a high enough level, technical skills...and interpersonal skills.

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