Following my graduation this summer, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been ‘led up the garden path’, so to speak. During my studies I was always told hard work gets rewarded. So after all those waking hours spent in the library (not to mention the other thirteen years of education) I couldn’t help but feel a bit peeved that so many job applications were met with rejection letters or, more infuriatingly, with no response at all.
Put simply, having a degree is no longer enough. Employers expect not only academic achievement, but a dazzling CV full of impressive extra-curricular activities, as well as work experience. Of course, I understand that companies want to hire somebody that is a ‘safe bet’; somebody who already knows what they are doing. However, many of us are intelligent, enthusiastic individuals bursting with ideas. Why, then, do employers not make the most of what bright young graduates have to offer? It would appear they simply have no faith in young people.
Yet it is not only graduates who are struggling with unemployment. In June-August last year, nearly a quarter of the UK’s youth were unemployed. Clearly, there is something not quite right with our system; either young people are not being prepared enough for work or employers need to be encouraged to take on graduates and school leavers. One solution is to focus on building practical, employability skills and gaining work experience during our schooling years.
Personally I found my university to be substantially job-focused. The university ran workshops on topics such as interview skills and CV formatting, as well as more course-specific advice. The issue here then, may be that employers need more faith in the ability of graduates, or an incentive to take them on. The company I undertook my internship with in the final year of my degree worked closely with the university to ensure that both, I and they got the most out of the experience. It is these initiatives which need to be more widely recognised and promoted – not just with internships, but also graduate schemes and training programmes.
Currently, I am Editor-in-Chief for the 99% Campaign, as hosted by the social policy think tank, Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS). In this role I am gaining excellent experience and contributing to a truly admirable cause of youth empowerment. Having struggled to find anything relevant to my chosen career path for six months post-university, I was in fact offered more than I had initially applied for when I got in contact with IARS. By showing a genuine interest in the campaign and being persistent I was offered the position of Intern.
Perseverance then, is necessary for success. Unfortunately, it would seem that far too many employers are reluctant to give you a chance. It is these attitudes which make the threat of a ‘lost generation’ an unavoidable reality.
Youth Employment UK Says: Sadly this is the experience of many young people, but at Youth Employment UK we know there are equally large numbers of employers desperate to give young talent a chance. That is why the Youth Friendly badge is critical to this problem, by awarding businesses who support young people with the badge we can help young people to find those great employers much easier. It will also encourage employers who are not yet supporting our youth to do so. And you know what, it’s free!