24/01/2005

Graduates 'missing out' on jobs: PwC report

A report commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on the graduate employment market, warns final year students must act quickly if they are hoping to start a graduate job after their degree.

The study showed that graduates who left university in the summer of 2004 were gloomier about their job prospects than any in the previous decade and that although the number of estimated graduate vacancies increased last year, there were still only enough such positions for one in three university-leavers.

'The Graduates of 2004 – A Disillusioned Generation?' found:
  • the number of students graduating from full-time degree courses in the last decade has risen by 23%, to an estimated 260,000 in 2004;
  • the number of graduate-level job vacancies in 2004 was estimated at 80,000, barely enough for a third of all new graduates leaving university this year;
  • 35% of final year students from the ‘Class of 2004’ expected to join the employment market after leaving university;
  • 60% of finalists who weren’t planning graduate employment in 2004 stated that they originally elected to attend university ‘to help me get a better job and career prospects’ or ‘to get the qualifications I need for my chosen career’;
  • the same finalists confirmed that during their last year at university, the main priority for two-thirds of students was ‘studying to get the best possible degree result’; just 10% said they had been focusing on applying for graduate jobs or postgraduate courses;
  • the majority of these finalists believed the most important selection criterion used by graduate employers was achieving ‘a good 2.1 or a 1st class degree’, whereas many employers typically regard academic qualifications as just one element of a graduate application;
  • many of these finalists remained upbeat about their studies at university and their future prospects; over a third believed their degree course would really help them with life after university and 77% said that they felt "positive" about life after graduation.
Head of Recruitment at PwC, Charles Macleod, said the survey confirmed two major points: oversupply and a lack of information.

Given the oversupply, and that students expected a degree to have a positive impact on their employment prospects, he recommended that some should consider direct entry to the workplace from school.

The survey also showed that while not as many finalists as had been suggested in some other studies were disillusioned, some appear to be ill informed.

He added: "The sooner this year’s (and next year’s) finalists set about researching and applying for jobs, the better for them and for their potential employers."

Produced by High Fliers Research, the survey included face-to-face interviews with almost 16,000 final year students, follow-up research with 646 finalists who did not expect to start a graduate job after university, and responses from over 200 leading graduate employers.

(SP)

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