New research in the area of graduate recruitment in the UK has revealed a worrying situation.
Figures derived from surveying 49,065 graduate responses indicate that Almost 28% of UK graduates who left university in 2007 were still not in full-time work three and a half years later. They are based on a snapshot survey taken on 29 November 2010.
While these figures include about 21 % who were working part-time or studying and 3.5% who gave their response as "other" that still leaves 3.5% who were considered to be unemployed, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The research also revealed a gender gap in the payment of men and women graduates, with 14% of men in full-time paid work who graduated in 2007 were earning between £30,000 and £34,999 three and a half years later compared with 9.3% of the women and 29.4% of women were earning £20,000 to £24,999, against 15.6% of men.
As worries about the pace of economic recovery in the UK and Europe continue with predictions of a slowdown or even a return to recession the figures are a graphic illustration of just how difficult life is for all job seekers.
The most recent monthly findings from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation also indicate a slowdown in recruitment during August 2011. While traditionally a less active period for recruitment because of the holiday period, the figures add to the worries about the economy.
They showed further moderate increases in permanent placements and temporary billings but that the growth of vacancies continued to ease. They also revealed that the rise in permanent salaries was at its weakest in 22 months and there had been the strongest rise in permanent candidate availability since January 2010.
This picture suggests that graduate job seekers may have to be willing to be innovative in getting the necessary experience that employers require even for someone newly entering the workplace.
Polishing grammar and spelling, for example, may make all the difference to whether a CV is accepted or rejected. Employers frequently identify inadequate literacy skills in the people who approach them for work.
Internships are often suggested as a way for graduates to gain experience and it is true that some of them do lead to offers of full-time employment. However, there is intense competition for places and often internships are unpaid. That means that graduates whose parents cannot afford to support them are at a distinct disadvantage.
It is also true that smaller companies that are often seen as the engine for economic growth may not be able to offer internships, either because they cannot spare the staff time to do the job properly or because they cannot afford to pay even a small amount for an intern.
Graduates looking for a job may be advised to consider signing on with a recruitment agency that can advise them on any skill gaps they may have, or any weak areas that they can improve on, but also the agency may be able to find temp or short contract positions in secretarial and administrative roles that would at least allow a candidate to get a foot in the door.