Graduates are working in low-skill jobs

University leavers are increasingly taking menial jobs that do not require a degree, it was reported today.

New statistics published by the Association of Accounting Technicians reveals that 40% of last year’s graduates are ‘underemployed’ in lower-skilled jobs six months after leaving university. This figure has risen from 30% in 2007.

Graduates have been among the worst hit by the economic downturn with research forecasting a deteriorating jobs market for graduates who will leave university this summer. The study predicts that the figures will rise to 42% of this year’s graduates working in low-skill jobs where a degree is not required, six months after graduating.

With the tuition fees set to soar, this raises the question of whether a university degree is worth the financial investment. Jane Scott Paul, chief executive at the Association of Accounting Technicians who commissioned the study says; “If we are asking people to invest £9,000-a-year on tuition fees, they should expect a credible return on that investment. Yet over half the graduates are nowhere near benefitting from their degree and the situation is set to get worse.” Therefore those considering the option of university need to think more carefully about job prospects and employability skills post-university.

The study shows graduates of law, history and philosophy are the most likely to be “underemployed”. However, graduates in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science are more likely to be in graduate employment.

With high competition for graduate jobs the alternative choice for university leavers is to find a graduate internship. Rather than taking a menial, low-skilled job that the candidate is over qualified for, an internship can bridge the gap between university and a graduate job. A good graduate internship can provide valuable work experience, key skills and the potential to build up a network of contacts.

Do you take whatever you can to start earning money, whether this is a supermarket job or call centre with no career prospects? Or do you gain experience and contacts through a graduate internship, progressing to a full-time permanent role?