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.







PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Getty
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Reception Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

Reception Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

Year 1 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ofsted have said "Good te...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day + ?DOE: Randstad Education Maidstone: English Teacher Kent...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor