Citizens Advice Scotland will today (Tuesday 10 April) formally launch a major national survey of recent graduates who are struggling to find work.
The online survey is open till 7 May, and is aimed at anyone in Scotland who has graduated in the last 6 years. It will seek their views on their current situation and their hopes for the future. It will also ask how well they think their University prepared them for the job market, and how well they feel they are treated now by the jobcentre, by the government and by employers.
Launching the survey today, CAS Acting Chief Executive Susan McPhee said:
“We’re undertaking this research because for some time now CAB advisers across Scotland have been reporting an increase in the numbers of graduates who are facing financial problems because they can’t get work. We want to investigate the extent of these problems, and to give those affected a platform to have their say.
“It used to be the case that a degree would lead to economic security. Since the recession, however, the outlook for recent graduates has been bleak. In the final quarter of 2011 the unemployment rate for recent graduates was 18.9% - more than double the national average. Meanwhile 35.9% of graduates who are in work find themselves in a lower level of employment.
“With this survey we are providing a platform to allow these people to speak up about their situation. We want them to tell us about their experiences of jobseeking, their attitudes towards the job centre, their views on what support is available from government, and whether they think they’ll be able to find suitable work in the future.
“The survey is open to graduates of all ages. However, it is usually younger people who are most likely to be affected by these issues. As young people don’t have much work experience many employers are often reluctant to give them a chance, while those who do manage to get work are often victim to a ‘last in, first out’ redundancy policy.
“Many graduates have told us they feel that all the time, money and effort spent on their education now seems worthless. Some have told us they feel nobody ever listens to them. Well, we are listening now, and we promise that we will take the information you give us very seriously and will present it to both governments and all other relevant agencies so that they will do the same.
“So we invite all recent graduates based in Scotland to complete the survey now. You will find it on our website at www.cas.org.uk or on our Facebook page.”
The survey is designed so it can be completed in just a few minutes, with the participants able to pick and choose the questions they wish to expand upon.The survey is available on the Citizens Advice Scotland website and facebook page (NB Remember this release is embargoed, so the survey will only be up and running from Tuesday morning. However the survey text and questions are attached now in a pdf file).
For more information, or to arrange interviews, contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655.
So far we have gathered a number of case studies of recent graduates willing to share their experiences. Some of these are quoted anonymously below. We do have some who are willing to be interviewed and photographed (as usual, these are available on a ‘first come first served’ basis. Contact Tony Hutson on 07774 751655).
‘The majority of the job centre staff didn't seem interested in graduate work. There was little or no distinction made between ‘graduate vacancies’ and ‘non-graduate vacancies’.’
‘Even when I was carrying out specific work experience to enhance my CV and gain experience, the job centre staff told me that I shouldn't bother, and encouraged me to apply for retail, or other similar, roles instead.’
‘I was unemployed for a while and it was the first time I'd ever had to claim benefits. I had no idea what to do and was looking for help from the Job Centre. Instead, I got treated like a cheat and got told I should have been putting something away "just in case". Luckily I was able to get some money from my dad to pay my rent, because if I'd relied on the Job Centre and the Council to sort me out I would have lost my flat and ended up in a soup kitchened’
‘As a graduate I found the Job Centre quite unable to deal with my needs as the only jobs available were for unskilled workers’
‘Whilst I am aware I need to do internships - I can't afford to, as they are often unpaid. The government must pass some legislation to help us.’
‘I have little idea what my degree 'qualifies' me to do. Certainly nobody at the uni ever gave me any advice on that issue.’
‘The job centre is not fit for graduates. The sort of jobs graduates are looking for are not advertised there, so the best case scenario is that graduates end up taking the jobs of people who need the jobs which are advertised at the job centre. in my view the job centre should be a careers service which caters for all, but understands that we have different skill levels and different requirements.’
‘Internships should be properly paid so it isn't just rich people who can afford to work for free and end up getting the most coveted jobs.’
‘My advice to current students would be - don't do an arts subject unless you have good contacts and rich and indulgent parents. If you don't, you know that crappy bar job you have to get you through university? Expect still to be in it 3 years after graduation.’
‘I have found that even employers taking on people in 'graduate-level' positions were looking for at least 2 years recent experience in that field! How can you get two years experience if you have been studying?’
‘I took a post graduate course as I had no confidence in finding a job with my degree. So I spent £4000 on a post graduate course which has been pretty much useless and not given me any advantage. I have applied for hundreds of jobs in the field of the post grad and 99% of the time you don’t even receive a response. Having a degree wasn’t enough, you needed so many years of experience too, which, coming straight from one course to the next, I didn’t have.’
‘I got one degree but couldn’t get a job so am now doing a second – not because I particularly want to, but because I have no hope of ever gettign a job at the moment. I’m fortunate that I have a family who have been able to support me financially, but I know lots of people in the same boat who don’t have that luxury. There is real despair.’
‘I graduated 2 years ago. I have applied for literally hundreds of jobs, been on 2 government schemes, but am still unable to get a real job. It’s so demoralizing, and I’m sick of being tod that I’m not trying hard enough. The truth is that there are not enough jobs out there.’
‘Following Uni I have had to move back home, so I lost all the freedom and independence encouraged through University life.
‘I remember when I was doing my exams at school, how desperate I was to get to university. I was naïve enough to think that if I worked hard and really applied myself and did my best, I would succeed and get a good job. Maybe get a nice little flat, and a family….That’s what I actually used to think. If I’d known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have bothered.’
‘My parents are angry with me at the moment because I’ve been advising my little sister not to go to uni. They want her to go because they still think its the way to get ahead – but it’s like I keep saying to them: Look at me. I’ve got a 2:1 degree and a lousy minimum wage bar job. Great!’
Last Year’s CAS Survey
Last year CAS ran a more general survey about the economic challenges facing all young Scots (graduates and non-graduates alike).