In no hurry to get a job

Securing a job is a low priority for many final-year students. Roger Trapp reports

Most final-year students do not expect to start a graduate job after leaving university this summer, according to research sponsored by the Independent, published today.

The survey, produced by High Fliers Research, organisers of the Oxbridge Careers Survey, shows that less than a quarter of students think they will be starting graduate employment, with a further 14 per cent saying they expect to be looking for a job. This suggests that about a third of finalists are likely to take graduate work eventually.

The project is the first nationwide student survey to examine the effectiveness of recruitment promotions and the impact of the "milk round" at leading universities throughout Britain. Based on direct interviews carried out in February and March with finalists at 15 leading universities, it provides a detailed picture of students' views of the recruitment process. This ranges from initial research into careers to the role of newspapers, directories and guides.

The milk round is already declining in importance asemployers move away from once-a-year hirings, and the findings of this research could prompt further changes to the graduate recruitment market.

Martin Birchall, survey director, says the findings indicate that students feel there is no urgency to securing a job. They are more focused on short- term goals, such as completing the week's essay.

Those who are not aiming to find a graduate position within months of leaving university are considering a range of options. Twenty-five per cent of the 7,000 students questioned - or 20 per cent of all the students graduating from the 15 universities covered - said they wanted to attend postgraduate courses, 16 per cent aimed to take time off or to travel and 7 per cent would seek non-graduate work, such as a temporary job. When contacted in March, only three months from graduation, about 15 per cent had no definite plans.

This low level of interest in employment is confirmed in a further result - that just over 40 per cent of students had made one or more applications to employers during their final year. Moreover, many students had sent in speculative applications, with little genuine confidence in finding a suitable job through the milk round process.

The survey was developed with the help of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, the organisation that represents employers who recruit UK graduates. Roly Cockman, AGR executive secretary, says some of the findings were "a little surprising".

In particular, he says he is concerned about the relatively small amount of effort a number of graduates appear to be putting into something that can shape their destiny, and the limited number actively seeking employment.

If these results apply to all universities, it seems his organisation has over-estimated in assuming that about half of graduates will apply for positions, he adds.

Mr Cockman is also interested to know the motives of those who said they would be applying for places on post-graduate courses. While students on medical, dental and other vocational courses were deliberately left out of the survey on the grounds that their inclusion would skew the results, it was still possible that some finalists would be seeking specific training, in areas such as the law or journalism.

Students opting for post-graduate education knowing exactly what they want to do is all very well, but it is not a good idea to take that route merely as a way of keeping out of the market, he adds. This is because they will eventually find themselves competing with fresh graduates for jobs without necessarily having more to offer and because many employers specifically look for first-degree candidates.

They should instead be concentrating on gaining extra personal skills while undergraduates since they are the factors that made them more marketable, he says.

However unpredictable the survey results may be overall, they are subject to local variations. In particular, students at Aston, Bath and Strathclyde universities were found to be generally more motivated about careers, while those at Leeds, Manchester and Belfast appeared to be the least motivated and had the lowest expectations about finding work.

While several factors are probably at work, the differences are attributed to the former group having a high proportion of finalists who had been on placements for the business studies or technical degrees, closer-knit campus communities and high-profile careers services. The latter group, meanwhile, is characterised by more dispersed student communities and their city rather than campus locations. In Belfast, another factor is the generally depressed job market.

The research also clearly shows that the level of employer activity at a university has little or no influence on the amount of interest in finding jobs. Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and Bristol have the largest number of employer events, advertising and promotion, yet the figures for finalists expecting to start a graduate job are average. Likewise, the numbers of students applying to employers and taking part in the milk round are also average.

A further finding of the survey is that even those finalists who were actively looking for work only devoted a minimal amount of time to it. The total time spent by a typical final-year student who was actively preparing for and researching a graduate job was between 30 and 40 hours.

About a third of the time was spent collecting information, another third went on meeting employers and the rest was used for completing application forms and CVs.

Mr Birchall says this may not seem like a particularly low figure, but it is worth considering that an average three-year degree course will amount to about 2,700 hours of lectures, tutorials and private study. "In this context, to spend only 30 to 40 hours planning the start of a career that could last 40 years does seem rather unbalanced," he adds.

For further information on the UK Graduate Careers Survey 1995, please contact Martin Birchall, survey director, at High Fliers Research on 0171 267-4773.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Leeds November start...

EBD LSA required - Vale of Glamorgan

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

EBD Teacher - Food Technology Specialist

£100 - £181 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobTo plan and deliver all ...

Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker