As unemployment among 16-24 year olds tops 1 million, it’s increasingly difficult for the 3,000 newly-graduated students from the University of Lincoln to find work.
Liam Berry from North Hykeham had expected to be in full-time employment by now, and is frustrated that he isn’t. “I think the only way my chances are going to get better is if the economy improves,” said the Media, Culture and Communications graduate.
In contrast, his colleague Daniel Denman secured a job as a TV buyer in London and moved to the city just four days after his last day at university, but he admits that he “fell into it through knowing people in the industry.”
For Domino Panton-Jones, it was more down to hard work than knowing the right people. After undertaking work experience at Maynineteen Entertainment and Events in a summer during university, she impressed her employers so much that they offered her a job as their Trainee Account Executive before she even left university.
Knowing how difficult the jobs market is, Panton-Jones describes herself as “extremely lucky”, however her mum doesn’t believe luck came into it: “My mum, being my biggest fan, said that it had nothing to do with luck, and I got the job because I worked hard and made the right impression,” she said.
To some extent, Panton-Jones agrees, having seen her fellow graduates struggle to find a job in their preferred field: “I believe it is difficult to get a job if you do not take the right steps at first. I think it is so much more than just handing in your CV and hoping for the best. I think you have to get out there and meet people, volunteer in your field and get hands-on experience, create your own projects so you keep on learning and start at the bottom and work your way up!”
But whilst Panton-Jones is in a job that could lead to a lifelong career, English Literature graduate Gemma Green is only working full-time to save up to do a TEFL course (Teach English as a Foreign Language) and go travelling. “I feel lucky I’ve got a relatively good job, although I’m aware that it doesn’t justify my degree,” she said of working in the toys section of a department store.
Putting graduates on track
Lesley O’Donnell, Employability Information Manager for the University of Lincoln’s careers service, said: “We advertise live vacancies for part-time jobs, placements, summer work through the Student Jobshop and graduate positions on our website. We also offer individual one-to-one support to all students, with drop-in sessions for CVs, job hunting and quick careers guidance queries, with planned drop-in sessions in the faculties very soon.”
As well as providing students with help finding a job and perfecting their CV, the careers service have also introduced many interactive ways to help students enhance their employability: “We have a range of different projects and schemes to try and help students,” O’Donnell said.
The last national survey of graduate employment published in July 2011 found 93% of Lincoln’s 2009/10 graduates were in employment or further study six months after graduation, against a national average of 90% while 67% of Lincoln graduates of 2009/10 were in graduate level jobs six months after graduation, against a national average of 64%.
“Careers Wednesdays, which include employer presentations, job hunting, CV and interview workshops; The Lincoln Award, which is designed to help students develop their skills and extra-curricular activities whilst at university; and Employability Mentoring, where Business and Criminology students receive one to one mentoring support from organisations/businesses.”
This help and support is still available to students after they’ve graduated, either online, in person or over the phone. “Once graduates leave the university, we have members of the team contacting them between summer and Christmas to find out if we can offer any support in their job hunting or applications, and we offer support for 3 years post-graduation – so even after they leave we still care about our graduates and try to help in any way we can,” O’Donnell explained.