Recession hits recent graduates

Matthew Chapman graduated from the University of St Andrews in June this year with a Masters in ancient history, and is now looking for a job in journalism. Here he describes the problems he is facing.

The skies look black for young graduates looking for jobs in Gordon Brown’s credit-crash Britain, an unfortunate situation when you consider that they are the drivers of a post-recession economy. Graduates are not only facing the immediate effects of the credit crisis, but are also the ones who are going to have to foot the large bill that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are lavishly building up. Reform, an independent think tank, has labelled the current crop of graduates the iPod generation: insecure, pressurised, over taxed and debt-ridden.

The immediate obstacle for graduates is finding their first position of employment in an extremely competitive market. I found this out recently after being rejected for the BBC’s journalism trainee scheme, where there were over 2,500 applications for 21 places. Due to the high number of applicants there is no opportunity for feedback, which leaves unsuccessful applicants back at square one.

For those who are lucky enough to be offered a graduate job, there is still no breathing space in today’s unstable economic climate. By way of example, a friend who graduated this year works for a management consultancy company in London, which recently made five out of eight graduate trainees redundant after only five months in the job. He was lucky enough to remain in employment, as was another friend who, while on a graduate training day with a major UK bank, was told that management had already decided to cancel their graduate trainee scheme for next year.

I must confess to a certain amount of naivety while I was at university, having assumed that a degree would enable me to walk into a job. I urge any current undergraduates to seriously consider their career options before graduation day; it will save a lot of time in the long run.

My current situation, and undoubtedly that of countless others, is actually summed up rather nicely in a song from the Broadway musical Avenue Q. The lyrics hold a deep resonance with the graduate dilemma: “What do you do with a BA in English? / What is my life going to be? / Four years of college and plenty of knowledge / Have earned me this useless degree. / I can’t pay the bills yet / ‘Cause I have no skills yet / The world is a big scary place.”

If I am to progress in the world of journalism it would be prudent of me to do a fast-track journalism course or a year-long postgraduate course, thereby actually gaining some skills. Charlie Ball, head of research at the graduate career agency Prospects, identifies this as a current trend: "Lots of graduates think it's not good to be job-seeking at this time, so they sign up to study for a couple of years until the recession is over," he said. "The sight of Lehman Brothers graduate trainees losing jobs in the week they started was not a good one.”

The situation is bleak for graduates during the recession, but how will graduates fare once it is over? Although housing prices for first-time buyers will fall – as will as interest rates on student-loan repayments – it is highly probable that the current generation will spend their working lives paying off the national debt through cuts in public spending and tax increases.

So, what options lie open to us graduates of 2008? Not many; dogged perseverance is perhaps the best bet. However, I have hit on a scheme to make my degree worth something again; move to the country with the lowest literacy rate in the world. I am sure I could get a job in Burkina Faso – where just 23.6 per cent of the population can read and write – although it would mean brushing up on my GCSE French…

Are you in the same situation as Matthew? Have you had similar experiences? Enter the debate by leaving your comments below.







Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape