This week has seen a number of articles relating to the quality of today’s Graduates and much is publicised about Graduate salaries now averaging £23,000.
“This may be the average for the FTSE 100 companies but it does not represent the bulk of Graduate Recruiters,” explains Jonathan Evans of specialist Graduate recruiter Discovery Recruitment & Training. “The average starting salary for graduates is nearer the £16,000 - £17,000 mark.”
“Observing this alongside the average student debt of almost £13,000 then we have a problem. Students are enticed to higher education with the promise of higher salaries and higher long term earnings but for the majority of Graduates this will never be the case.”
“This myth about salaries should not be perpetuated.” says Evans. “It leads to false expectations from the graduates and many of the UK’s companies are not in a position to offer starting salaries as high as those continuously quoted. It actually serves to discourage some employers with them thinking they cannot afford to recruit a graduate.”
“The majority of Graduate Recruitment is undertaken by the UK’s ever growing SME marketplace and they are much better positioned than ever to attract many of what are perceived as the ‘cream of the crop’; those graduates who are typically courted by the more traditional Graduate Recruiters,” says Evans
“Carl Gilleard, Chief Executive of the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) is spot on though! Businesses have partly created a situation where they are demanding Graduates with higher grades because they now have to cope with the vast quantities of applications they receive. UCAS points and degree classifications are used as a crude method of selection, immediately screening out those candidates with lower grades and not considering other key attributes, but what else can they do to filter down and identify the selected few?
Combined with this is additional problem that graduates are concentrating on academic achievement rather than soft skills and self development. With the rising costs of studying at Universities many graduates are working in part time jobs far longer than the recommended number of hours, some of them working in excess of 30 hours a week to make ends meet. This of course creates a situation where graduates cannot spend the time joining the clubs and societies that we know enable the graduates to develop their social and interpersonal skills.”
“A degree is no longer a ticket to securing a job! Twenty years ago employers felt they had some surety and security when employing Graduates but now they are demanding work experience or shadowing and vocational experience to provide the evidence no longer demonstrated through the University system.”
“Unfortunately the problem is deeper than many are willing to admit and it starts a lot earlier than University,” says Evans. “Logic dictates that if A’ Levels and GCSE’s are getting easier and more people are going to University then the quality of the Graduates will not be as high. We know this is often the case because we frequently interview graduates who have attained ‘A’ grades at A’ level and 2:1’s and 1st’s in their degrees but are unable to string a sentence together that is grammatically correct or indeed solve basic numerical problems.”
“The advice Graduates need should start at school. Questions should be asked that open the potential undergraduates’ eyes before they commit themselves.
- Is this the right route for you?
- The average debt incurred for Graduates when they leave University is almost £13,000. How will you pay for it?
- What do you want to achieve from your investment?
- Your second year does matter and you need to have an idea of what you want to do!
- If you are going to University to get a good job, then what can you do whilst you are there to prepare yourself for it?
“Despite the efforts of this government to persuade more school leavers to enter higher education, University is not right for everyone and more care and diligence should be given when advising our future talent on what they should do.”
“It is not all doom and gloom” comments Evans, “there is a large quantity of wonderful talent out there but with graduate positions on the increase generally, companies will have to be smarter about their methods of attraction and selection. They have as much to prove to the graduates as the graduates have to prove to them if they are going to compete for the best talent.”