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Graduates told to work in call centres

Posted on May 25 2009
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Students who graduate from university this summer should look for jobs in call centres, shops and restaurants, according to the Government.
Advice from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills to the 340,000 students who leave higher education this year, with average debts of nearly £16,000, is to take whatever job they are offered, even if it does not require a degree.

Its new guide, "Life after graduation", which will be sent to all graduating students over the next couple of weeks, tells worried finalists that it will be harder to find a job because of the recession and that they "would be wise" to look at opportunities in all sectors, including "entry-level" employment.

One tip is to use recruitment agencies and the local press as useful source of "jobs in offices, call centres and so on". While "entry-level positions in retail or hospitality" are recommended as a way to boost CVs.

The advice from ministers to take low-paid, so-called "McJobs" will do little to reassure the "class of 2009" who face the toughest job market for more than a decade.

"This is a pretty gloomy analysis of graduate prospects, without much direct help," said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of education and employment research at Buckingham University.

"For students who have been enticed in to higher education with a phoney promise that it would lead to a good job and employment premium, it will be deeply disappointing.

"They may well end up in a McJob and several years behind what they could have been if they had sought a ladder in to employment earlier."

Other advice in the booklet includes working in the public sector.

It says there are "vast opportunities" for graduate employment in the 468 councils in the UK, the police, the civil service, the NHS and the Armed Forces.

It also recommends the Teach First programme, which will put 500 graduates with at least a 2:1 degree in to challenging schools.

Working abroad, teaching English as a foreign language or volunteering to develop vital career skills are also covered.

The guide publicises the Government's new "Graduate Talent Pool" scheme, which will provide 5,000 internships, including more than 100 in various Government departments.

In the forward, David Lammy, the higher education minister, admits that it will be harder to get a good job, or any employment at all, but says "we can be confident that in a few years time, the great majority of graduates will be doing as well as they always have done."

A recent survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters of the top 124 employers of graduates revealed that 60 per cent have cut their planned intake, leading to a 5.4 per cent fall in the number of graduate jobs this autumn.

If job losses increase at the same rate as in 2008 or accelerate twice as fast, there would be between 6,500 and 21,000 more new first degree graduates unable to find work than last year.

The research follows a separate survey which revealed that this year's finalists are the gloomiest ever about their prospects. More than 50 per cent said graduate-type employment opportunities are "very limited".

It is the worst level of pessimism expressed in 15 years of graduate careers surveys conducted by market researchers High Fliers.

Its study of 16,357 final-year students revealed that just over a fifth (21 per cent) are targeting a graduate job for this autumn. A further 15 per cent expect to do so by the time they complete their finals.

A further one third of finalists say they will have to accept any job they are offered, and one in six have applied to employers they admit they have no interest in.

More than a quarter (26 per cent) say they will sit the recession out and carry on with postgraduate studies.

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