Tanya de Grunwald: Insisting on a particular degree doesn't guarantee the best person for the job

THE latest statistics confirm that summer 2010 is a tough time to be a new graduate - or the parent of one.

I expect to see record numbers returning to live at home, where they will face a long and lonely job-hunt.

It will be a worrying time for hundreds of thousands of families across the UK.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The good news is that these new figures will make it harder for recruiters, universities and the politicians to pretend that there isn't a huge problem here.

There is.

We have a record number of graduates, in record debt, competing for a diminishing pool of vacancies as we face a possible double-dip recession and a huge reduction in public-sector jobs.

Throw in the backlog of graduates from 2009 and 2008 still looking for work, and the spread of unpaid internships, and this paints a bleak picture for the class of 2010.

Any politician claiming this is a surprise is a liar - because the warning signs have been there for years.

I say let's start talking about what's happening, so we can start finding solutions. Ignoring it isn't helping anybody.

I'm disappointed that so many recruiters are insisting on a minimum 2:1 degree - I don't believe it guarantees the best candidates.

Firstly, degree classifications aren't standardised. A 2:2 from Oxford University may well be "better" than a 2:1 from many other universities. Secondly, there are many reasons a student might qualify with a 2:2 nowadays.

To pay their way through university, many students take several part-time jobs - and take their eye off the ball, allowing their studies to suffer.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Others say cuts in university budgets mean they receive minimal feedback from tutors who they hardly see, leading to coursework or final-exam disasters.

Graduates with a 2:2 shouldn't despair, however. It is possible to do well with a "dodgy" degree but they'll need to go off the beaten track to find employers who want "good all-rounders" - and are less snooty about qualifications.

SMEs (small/medium enterprises) are often more welcoming than the big graduate recruiters (and they're often a lot more fun to work for).

Is university still worth it? The official line is that graduates earn 100,000 more in a lifetime than non-graduates - but we should remember this is an average. Some will earn a lot more than this, while others will earn far less.

I think we need to go back to the drawing board and agree what university is actually for.

Right now, schools, universities, recruiters, politicians and parents all have very different ideas - and it's the graduates who are paying the price.

Tanya de Grunwald is founder of the careers advice website and blog GraduateFog.co.uk

Related topics: