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By Natalie Reuter on 27.1.2024

’09 graduates labelled "Generation Crunch"

Students graduating this summer are set to experience one of the toughest years for almost two decades in seeking employment, according to a recent survey.

The High Fliers Research survey of 100 firms has found that entry-level recruitment targets have dropped by 17% over the last year, a direct effect of the current economic recession.

The financial sector has been hit the hardest by the downturn, with recruitment down by a massive 47% meaning graduate jobs in areas such as investment banking, retail and accountancy are becoming increasingly difficult to come by. This is a dramatic contrast to last year’s figures, which indicated that graduate unemployment was at its lowest level for five years.

The current crisis in the graduate jobs market has led some to term the current set of university students as ‘Generation Crunch’ because of the long term repercussions the downturn will have on all students graduating in the next few years.

Martin Birchall, the managing director of High Fliers Research Company has also warned that graduates from 2008 may lose out as well:

“Not only have vacancies been reduced substantially for those finishing university in 2009, but it is now clear that many of last year’s entry-level jobs did not materialise either, leaving many graduates from the class of 2008 out of work too.”

The crisis has also led to a sense of disillusionment amongst current students and recent graduates, those who have been told their chances of gaining employment will be improved by investing in higher education.

Students doing less vocational courses have been predicted to take the biggest blow. According to Professor Peter Dolton, of Royal Holloway at the University of London and of the London School of Economics’ Centre for the Economics of Education: “when you have rising graduate unemployment, the effects are felt worst by graduates of non-vocational subjects and graduates from less prestigious universities”.

Instead, many graduates will now be forced into lower paid non-graduate jobs for the foreseeable future and even more will remain unemployed after graduation.

According to the latest labour market survey, unemployment is growing fastest amongst 18 to 24-year olds, with 55,000 out of 137,000 newly unemployed people belonging to this age bracket at the end of 2008. With the worrying prediction that 3 million people will be out of work by the end of this year, these figures are set to rise rapidly.

Graduates are not, however, only missing out on graduate employment opportunities. Many are finding it just as difficult to land jobs which ask for fewer qualifications, such as retail and bar work, as more and more companies cut down on staff to save money and reject recent students on the basis that they are looking for more permanent staff members.

The possibility of long term unemployment may also produce a more lasting damaging effect on the careers of students who fall victim to it.

Past studies have often shown that those trying to re-launch a career after a long period of stagnancy often find it a struggle to readjust.

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