I was watching Sunrise on Sunday when they spoke about something I have recently noticed myself – Only 41.7% of Graduates are in full time roles. This means that over half of the qualified people being pumped out of universities are not obtaining the dream that they were shown when they began their studies.
Many school-leavers are pushed into university study by their peers, parents, and teachers with the expectation that a degree will lead to a career – but as we have found, that is not always the case. Those teenaged school-leavers are expected to choose a course of study that they will spend years working towards without the guarantee of future success.
When these school-leavers complete their degrees, they join a sea of other graduates with the same skill-set all fighting for the small number of roles in the industry they spent years studying to enter. These graduates then don’t understand why they are unsuccessful – they have the skills and now want to gain the experience – but everyone else in that sea of graduates is in the same boat.
What does this lead to?
University graduates are applying for roles which both the candidate and the employer recognise that they are overqualified for. In many cases, graduates apply for these lower-level roles so that they are able to gain the required experience in their field, in order to help them stand out from that sea of other qualified applicants. However, the people hiring for these roles feel that graduates are overqualified and are unlikely to hire them as they “know” they will not stick around.
It becomes a catch-22, graduates are overqualified for some roles and under-qualified for others, and the ratio of graduates to roles is significantly out of proportion.
Why is it happening?
As mentioned in the Sunrise report, many people see trade-based Apprenticeships and TAFE courses as inferior to university qualifications, even when both can lead to full time careers. With this viewpoint, many parents – whether they themselves attended university or not – push their children towards obtaining a degree which will allow them to have a successful “professional” career. With this parental pressure, many school-leavers apply for degrees that they don’t fully understand or even want to achieve.
As I mentioned in a previous blog (“Y” It’s Your Fault Parents – Y Gens), there are some parents who encourage their children to focus on their studies and discourage (or forbid) them from working while studying. This leads to graduates with a solid theory base but little practical experience, if any work experience at all. The problem with this is that employers are looking for not only the theoretical know-how, but the practical experience that even a casual after-school job will bring – working with others, following procedures, punctuality & attendance, and so on.
The Role Universities Play
When a school-leaver is accepted into a university course, they join hundreds of other students studying the same course from the same lecturers. While some do drop-out or change their degree focus, this still leaves hundreds of people at the same level of experience being churned through the university system and pumped out the other end.
Some university courses have practical studies, internships or project opportunities available for the students, but not all of them. In some cases, the opportunities are there but the students don’t learn about them until it is too late and are no longer open or available for them.
In many cases, graduates who are unsuccessful in finding a full-time role will return to university to improve their skill-set, but ultimately making many of them even more overqualified and leaving them to return to the ever-growing sea of graduates.
What this means for employers
With a growing pool of graduates seeking full-time roles, employers are in the perfect position to capitalise on this. There is a HUGE number of university qualified people out there who have been hit hard by the “reality stick” and are desperate just to gain a full-time job. So employers, it’s time to rethink the notion of “overqualified candidates” that you “know” won’t stick around….. the fact is that the odds are stacked against many university graduates to ever having the opportunity to pursue the career that was mapped out ahead of them. Take advantage of these intelligent and motivated candidates – provide them with a meaningful starting point, keep them busy and motivated – and you may be surprised where that leads……
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