Underemployment: The big black hole swallowing graduate talent

The class of 2015 may think that they have it easy amid the various media reports that suggest an increase in graduate career opportunities. Whilst they are right to approach their career search with positivity and unwavering optimism, graduates must be aware that the job market is a long way from fully recovering.

Although graduate opportunities have increased by 8.1% this year it does not guarantee success for 2015 graduates as they will face competition in the job market from previous graduates who did not have many opportunities available to them at the time of their graduation. So, whilst the 8.1% rise is encouraging, it is still not enough to save previous and present graduates from the depths of unemployment and underemployment.

The good news is that graduate unemployment levels have dipped significantly over the last couple of years, which does usually indicate that a recovery is in motion. However, hopeful graduates are more at risk of falling into the big black hole that is underemployment. A recent survey conducted by Accenture revealed that an alarming 60% of graduates who left university in 2013 and 2014 are underemployed. Many 2013 & 2014 graduates remain trapped in jobs that do not even require a degree qualification.

The reasons behind underemployment are complex. Whilst the lack of graduate opportunities over the last few years plays a big part in the problem there are other factors that also have an impact.

Some experts suggest that the lack of government controls on admissions for university courses need to be rectified. The government controls the number of applicants training to be doctors and teachers but not much else. This means that many graduates who have completed vocational degrees find themselves unable to forge a related career because there was never a demand for them in the first place.

Another explanation for underemployment among graduates is poor networking and job hunting skills. Many graduates fail to explore opportunities in small-medium business enterprises where career opportunities can go unfilled and instead focus their efforts on bigger organisations. Universities also fail to point their students in the direction of career opportunities with small-medium businesses. When the efforts do not pay off graduates often settle for jobs which do not require the skills that they have acquired throughout their studies and don’t reflect their true abilities.

Unfortunately, graduates who find themselves underemployed often struggle to break free. Many of them fail to keep up their efforts when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities. They do not actively apply for jobs and filling in applications are completed half-halfheartedly and dwindle in numbers. Those who do not persistently search for opportunities and develop their skills usually find themselves stuck.

Whatever the reasons are for the high level of underemployment, the fact remains that large amounts of resources are being wasted on training and developing skills. Graduate employers, universities and the government need to focus on how they can reduce underemployment so that the latest graduate talent doesn’t fall victim to the big black hole.  

 

 

 

 

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