Ever since the start of the recession, news of youth unemployment has dominated the headlines. Totaljobs.com released a report which found a third of graduates were still looking for work more than 6 months after leaving university, despite many completing over 100 applications, and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde recently stated that youth unemployment was too high.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the percentage of recent graduates employed in lower skilled jobs rose from around 27 per cent in 2001 to around 36 per cent at the end of 2011. However, graduates typically have higher employment rates than non- graduates, who may struggle with a lack of higher education.
As a graduate myself, I am going to share my own experience of the youth unemployment crisis.
When I started university, I thought that having a degree would mean my future was secure; I would graduate, walk into my dream job and live happily ever after.
The reality turned out to be very different.
As soon as I graduated, I started apply for journalism jobs. I didn’t get a single interview.
Most didn’t bother to respond at all. It was usually only after a month or so had passed that I realised I had been unsuccessful.
So I quickly woke up to the reality that currently faces most graduates: bleak prospects and an unsettled job market.
I decided that if I was ever going to become a journalist I needed a qualification more tailored to the profession and enrolled on the NCTJ diploma in journalism distance learning course. I moved back home (which took some adjusting to after three years living away!) and began searching for a job; I was completely broke at this point.
So I handed out my CV to all the local shops, bars and restaurants in my area, thinking that my qualifications and previous retail experience would be more than enough to get me hired. A month later and things were looking desperate.
I couldn’t understand? Surely, as a graduate, I was qualified? Perhaps that was part of the problem? Because I had a degree most potential employers probably suspected I had more ambitious career plans.
I felt demoralized, my self- confidence diminishing with every unsuccessful application. There were times when handing out another CV almost seemed pointless and a waste of effort. What was even more frustrating was that shops I had given my CV to were still displaying the same vacancy signs weeks later.
There I was, actively seeking work! I wasn’t claiming benefits, yet I felt like the system favoured those who were.
Eventually I managed to get a full time position doing administrative work. My few months job hunting made me realize how lucky I am to have a job at all, even if it’s not something I want to do long term.
Millions of young people are currently facing long-term unemployment and with figures likely only to increase, there seems to be no way of knowing when the situation will end.
(Pic courtesy of neonbubble via Flickr)