Unemployed graduates need work experience

Nearly a quarter of graduates are unemployed in the first year of leaving university according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics. The majority of those graduates, 16.1% are still unemployed a year later, which leading graduate internship provider Inspiring Interns believes clearly demonstrates the importance of internships that lead into meaningful work.

The ONS report found that the average rate of unemployment among 21-24 year olds with degrees is 13.6%; well above the national average of 8.9%. It is not until two years after graduating that the rate of unemployment amongst graduates drops below 8.9%, suggesting that in the current climate many graduates spent up to two years looking for work and gaining experience before they find a job.

In light of these statistics the importance of internships to gain experience and work towards earning a graduate job becomes even clearer. Inspiring Interns Communications Director Andrew Scherer, who began his working life as an intern for Inspiring Interns and is the author of Brilliant Intern, believes that internships are the ideal model for graduates to develop skills and earn meaningful graduate-level work.

“Recent graduates struggle to compete in the current saturated employment market and as such remain unemployed or find menial work that does not make best use of their education. Opportunities in the form of internships offer a vocational learning experience for them to develop skills, make a valuable contribution that more often than not will lead to a graduate job.”

Since being founded in 2009, London’s leading internship provider has placed over 1,400 graduates into internships with SMEs that have offered real hands-on experience, 65% of whom secured full-time work with their host company.

Call for more support for unemployed graduates

In advance of tomorrow’s unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics leading graduate internship provider, Inspiring Interns is calling on the Government to boost support for unemployed graduates. A concerted effort needs to be made to ensure that graduate jobseekers do not bear the brunt of current economic difficulties and long-term structural problems.

With a staggering 28% of the class of 2007 still not in full-time employment (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14758464) and 50,000 more university leavers entering the job market in 2012 than five years ago, competition for jobs are increasingly fierce.

A recent report by High Fliers Research found that half of the companies they surveyed were unlikely to employ someone without any previous work experience.  Recruiters have confirmed that a third of this year’s entry-level positions are expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations.

“New graduates who’ve not had any work experience have little hope of landing a well-paid job with a leading employer, irrespective of the academic results they achieve or the university they’ve attended,” said Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research.

With graduates trapped in this ‘need experience to get a job, need a job to get experience’ vicious circle, it has become vital for them to acquire work experience. Inspiring Interns Communications Director Andrew Scherer, who began his working life as an intern for Inspiring and is the author of Brilliant Intern, believes that internships are the perfect model to get graduates into meaningful work.

“The employment market is currently saturated, not just with those immediately out of university but by people with over a year’s experience under their belt. Graduates are finding that they simply cannot compete in these conditions and as such remain unemployed or find menial work that does not make best use of their education.”

“It is a waste of personal ability and the public investment in their education to place those with degrees into short-term, low-skilled jobs or even onto the dole queue when opportunities exist, in the form of internships, for them to develop skills, make a valuable contribution and earn graduate-level work.”

We call on the Government to expand its Work Experience Programme to ensure that unemployed graduates can undertake meaningful internships that offer an opportunity to progress to a permanent position. In 2011 Inspiring Interns formed a groundbreaking partnership with Job Centre Plus and the Work Experience Programme to help support graduates who want to undertake an internship. Thanks to the partnership, interns are able to receive JSA for a minimum of eight weeks during their internship. When graduates would otherwise be job hunting this scheme permits them to gain invaluable work experience at no additional cost. With this added work experience the likelihood of them getting a permanent graduate role is highly increased.

Since being founded in 2009, London’s leading internship provider has placed over 1,400 graduates into internships with SMEs that have offered real hands-on experience, 65% of whom secured full-time work with their host company. Ex-Inspiring Intern and author of Brilliant Intern, Andrew Scherer argues,

“We know from extensive experience that well-run internships are a solution to the graduate unemployment crisis. It is time for the Government to support them and reverse the worrying trend of joblessness among our university leavers.”

Don’t be disheartened by unemployment figures

The recent unemployment figures may make grim reading for job hunters and those poised to leave university but the view from Inspiring Interns is that there are innovative solutions to these disheartening statistics.

The latest survey by the Office for National Statistics revealed unemployment figures have risen to 2.68 million in the three months to November 2011.  The unemployment rate for young people was 22.3%, up 1% from the three months to August 2011 with a total of 1.04 million 16 to 24 year olds out of work.

The UK’s jobless are losing hope for the future with the number of people unemployed for over one year reaching 857,000 in the three months to November 2011. Research conducted by The Prince’s Trust found that unemployed young people are feeling less confident about the future than they did this time last year.

With job losses in the public sector likely to continue, the Government must make every effort to help the private sector and SMEs to create more jobs. The key to reviving the job market is to focus on enhancing the right skills and considering roles in growing sectors and newer industries.

In our experience most success has been found in newer industries which often complement many graduates’ personal interests. Areas such as mobile technology and digital marketing offer potential for swift progression when compared to more traditional professions and also allow university leavers to draw on familiar skills, such as knowledge of social media.

Inspiring Interns are championing graduate internships as a new and successful approach to encouraging small business to hire university leavers and getting graduates into work. Their model – a three month placement with minimum lunch and travel expenses, with a view to permanent graduate job – has seen over 1,300 graduates complete internships in the London area in the last three years, with 65% of them going on to secure full-time work with their host company. Inspiring Interns CEO and founder Ben Rosen believes that internships are the perfect model to get graduates into meaningful work.

“An internship provides that stepping stone between student life and the working world – it is a vocational learning experience that more often than not will lead to a job.”

Rosen also explains the benefit for employers;

“Internships offer employers the chance to hire someone on potential rather than experience. A three month internship period allows them to offer the intern training and the chance to observe them in the workplace before committing to taking them on permanently. This limits their risk and allows them to take a candidate on who they would not have otherwise.”