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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 totaljobs.com 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 totaljobs.com, said of the results:

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Graduates Sell Their Faces to Pay Off Student Debt

A pair of enterprising graduates have come up with a novel way of paying off their university debt- selling advertising space on their faces. Ross Harper and Ed Moyse are offering companies the chance to have their logos scrawled across their faces in face paint. 

After graduating from Cambridge last year, the two 22-year-olds were faced with tens of thousands of pounds of student debt, and the toughest graduate jobs market in decades. Rather than go the conventional route of trying to find a job, they came up with the idea of transforming themselves in to walking billboards. After starting the website BuyMyFace.com in October, they planned  to sell their faces for 366 days (one year) in the hope of raising enough to pay off the £50,000 of student debt they have.

Since then, they have managed to 'sell their faces' every single day. On the first few days, they charged just £1, but since their success has grown, their faces can now command up to £400 a day. Indeed, 178 days in, they are well on track of meeting their target, having made an amazing £32,282 so far.  

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