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Thursday, 28 May 2009

'Sorry, there were more experienced candidates'

It is the ultimate catch 22, you haven't got enough experience for the job but you can't get experience if someone doesn't give you a break and employ you! Its something a multitude of soon-to-be graduates are going through at the moment.

Universities and businesses developed an ingenious process to help tackle this, the year in industry. Students on certain courses take a year out from their studies, usually their third year, to work in a business where they can apply what they have studied. These sandwich degrees have been very popular at some Universities and are, in my opinion, brilliant. Students can 'test-out' if the job they were interested in is right for them, knowing that it is only for a fixed term. Businesses can assess how appropriate the candidate is for a permanent position, usually on a lower salary and decide whether or not to offer them a job when they graduate.

However, a
BBC Article has discovered that in this economic climate fewer businesses are willing to take on placement students and Universities are having to adapt degree courses accordingly. It seems that students studying in the construction sector have been worst hit and yet they benefit a great deal from the experience.

To make things worse, the Careers Development Officer advises looking further a field possibly nationally or internationally. I doubt that he has had to support himself for a year on the sort of salary that placement students are offered. If it was as easy as going anywhere and not having to pay rent, bills etc then there wouldn't be a problem. It infuriates me that this is the best advice the University can offer and it is not at all practical!

With opportunities becoming less available and employers less willing to take chances on inexperienced people how do you beat the catch 22? Students can increase their breadth of experience and employability by finding part-time, freelance, ad-hoc and temporary work through This will help them earn money now and improve their prospects later. Volunteering for registered charities is also an excellent way to get experience which many HR personnel recognise.

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