Graduate unemployment figures highest in over a decade

One in five of those who have left university in the past year are unable to find work within six months, it was reported yesterday.

According to the Office for National Statistics graduate unemployment doubled in the third quarter of 2010 compared to pre-recession and soared to its highest level since the mid-90s.

The data suggests graduates have been hit hardest by the economic downturn. It emerged unemployment amongst university leavers increased faster than the jobless rate in the UK as a whole. The figures showed that graduate unemployment rose from 10.6% to 20% compared to the 5.2% to 7.9% total rise of UK unemployment.

The report will be seen as the latest setback to the Government’s plans to stabilise public finances. Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: This is grim news for Britain’s graduates. We have to stop this becoming a lost generation. The Government needs to change course to create more growth and jobs.

The report comes one month after government voted to triple the cap on student tuition fees. Student leaders fear that the rise in tuition plus the latest figures will deter more young people from higher education.

In response to the statistics Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, said: Graduates are encountering an exceptionally hostile jobs market and the Government persists with policies that put the burden of the country’s debt on the young.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: Today’s graduate unemployment figures are further bad news for students and young people.

Those who do make it through university are going to face a difficult job market without support, but saddled with record levels of debt.

However it is not all bad news. This report follows recent research suggesting a rise in graduate opportunities took place towards the end of the year. The Association of Graduate Recruiters yesterday reported an 8.9% annual increase in graduate jobs. The improving jobs market was driven by a surge of vacancies at the end of last year, says the survey, with a forecast of a further 3.8% increase for this year.

Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the AGR, says, This is good news the graduate job market is finally picking up, however the fact salaries are predicted to remain the same and fewer employers are offering financial incentives, is evidence demand for jobs still greatly outstrips supply.

With such a demand for jobs and with statistics of 45 applicants for every graduate job in 2011, graduates need extra on their CV to give themselves a better chance of securing a career they want.

Chris Grayling MP, Minister of Employment, says the priority should be creating financial stability, and that a new government work experience scheme would help make young people more employable

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