For different reasons, more and more graduates are ending up working as cleaners, bartenders, shelf stackers and so on. Based on my experiences and observation; here are three reasons I have identified to be the main contributors to this problem:
1) Under-estimating the reality of the current job market
Although there is an awareness of an increase in competition for jobs since the recession, the impact of the reality of the current job market is not felt until after graduation. Nearly 40% of graduates are still hunting for jobs after six months of leaving the university according to a recent report by The Independent.
An ONS report published last year also showed that 47% of graduates employed within six months were working in jobs that did not require a degree. It is no wonder why a survey conducted by a graduate recruitment website (totaljobs.com) showed that almost half of all graduates wished they had steered clear of academic courses, opting for 'something more vocational' instead.
The massive attention given to the importance of a degree could be blamed for graduates' over-reliance on their degrees. Many graduates focus solely on the completion of a degree (with a 2:1 minimum) that they automatically expect to secure that job upon completion or at least after a few interviews, but they are met with a shocking reality.
2) Lack of confidence
As a result of an unexpectedly high number of unsuccessful job applications, many graduates start to feel unqualified for their desired roles and therefore begin to apply for jobs with less academic requirements, just for the sake of gaining employment at all cost.
The psychological impact of working menial jobs after successfully completing a 3 year course or more in the university has a long lasting effect on the confidence of an individual that he or she may never continue in the pursuit of their career.
3) Fear of exploring other possibilities
One of the first things I learnt from Business School is that 'I am a Business' (by Professor Nora Colton). For different reasons, many graduates do not consider other possibilities e.g self-employment. The general perception of self-employment is a very low and unstable income which is not entirely true; just like starting a new business, it is expected to have a rough beginning but the end result is very rewarding especially in the current job market where the alternative is working at a local bar.
Another general assumption is that starting your own new venture requires a considerably large amount of money, this is a misconception. There are many ways to provide goods and services in this technology age that do not require much to start.
In conclusion, preparing undergraduates for the Real World should be of great importance in order for these universities to add more value to their degree courses and produce more prolific graduates into the society.