According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development News Release of the 29th March, "High number of graduates moving into unrelated employment risks creating a 'disillusioned generation' - and excessive targets risk making the matter worse"
In a week when final-year university students turn their attention to jobhunting during the Easter break, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) finds that nearly six in ten (59%) of employees who graduated in the last two years are not currently working in a field or profession related to the degree they studied.
The survey, Focus on graduate jobs, which is based on responses from more than 700 graduates in employment, comes against the backdrop of Government pledges to significantly increase - to 75% - the proportion of young people they want to secure a degree or equivalent level qualification.
In addition, the survey, conducted for the CIPD by YouGov, finds that among graduates not working in a field related to the degree they studied:
• 58% of those who graduated in the last two years said this was because they were unable to find a suitable job
• 28% of recent graduates said that their degree did not equip them with the skills that they need for the workplace
• 21% of recent graduates chose a new career path after finishing their degree
• a quarter of recent graduates (24%) had since decided to postpone the start of the careers entirely
The figures raise questions over the Government's continued efforts to expand enrolment on university degrees, and their desire to chase the new 75% target for young people to be educated up to degree level, particularly at a time when the UK labour market has contracted significantly.
Tom Richmond, Skills Adviser at the CIPD, said:
"Our survey findings suggest the Government's target of 75% of young people achieving a degree or equivalent level qualification is counter-productive and should be urgently reviewed. As rising youth unemployment threatens to create a 'lost generation' of jobless young people, the rising number of students unable to work in jobs related to the subjects they studied at university threatens to create a 'disillusioned generation' of graduates, unable to find graduate-level employment but still saddled with thousands of pounds worth of debt.
"If this is the situation today when our graduation rate is 39%* then the consequences for future graduate job prospects look bleak indeed if there really is an attempt to nearly double the numbers of graduates in the UK. To compound this, the recent announcement of an extra 20,000 university places in this year's Budget makes the creation of a 'disillusioned generation' even more likely.
"Government should focus on understanding the needs of learners and employers, as well as providing young people with better information about the realistic employment prospects and salaries typically available for holders of degrees in different subjects. This will help ensure there is a better link between demand for, and supply of, graduate jobs.
"The Government also needs to spend more time and effort developing and promoting the new vocationally-based diplomas for 14 to 19-year-olds to ensure that more young people have the key skills to enter the workforce at age 16 or 18, rather than encouraging such a high proportion of them to study for degrees. Our survey suggests this over promotion of university or equivalent level study could leave many without the knowledge and skills that will genuinely help them find graduate-level work and apply it in the workplace."
• The 75% target for getting young people to participate in Higher Education or complete an advanced apprenticeship or technician course at degree level by the age of 30 was announced in November 2009, in the Government's 'Skill Strategy'
• *The UK's graduate rate (the percentage of all graduates out of a total population at the typical age of graduation, which is usually 21 in the UK) was 39% in 2007 according to the latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
• The CIPD is Europe's largest HR and development professional body with over 135,000 members, supporting and developing those responsible for the management and development of people within organisations
• Public Policy at CIPD promotes an agenda for Productive Workplaces to boost economic performance and improve the quality of working life