If you had read the article on graduate job–seeking in the latest issue of the Listener, you could be led to believe that the employment future for a university graduate is very bleak indeed. Sure the economy is tight, we are, after all, in a global recession and jobs are hard to come by for everyone, not just graduates.
We can report some good news, however. Since January this year over 340 employers have advertised positions on NZUniCareerHub (the only job vacancy board that is strictly for NZ university students and graduates) and jobs are up by 22% since this time last year. This figure does not include a significant number of other employers university career services work with who opt to advertise to a targeted course or specific class of students (there are over 850 employers registered on NZUniCareerHub). And many of our graduates who started off in part-time or contract positions report that these positions have become full-time or that contracts have been renewed several times over.
There is often talk about graduates going into less-skilled positions, but some of these administrative support positions as well as call centre positions are way more complex today and require a higher level of skill than may have been required several years ago. I challenge anyone to spend a day at a call centre in, for instance, IRD and come away thinking it was an easy job!
I am interested that one of the comments in the article singled out film school and media studies students. The question being asked is why are we teaching courses for occupations that have so few opportunities? The film and media industry has always been a highly competitive one both here and overseas. Yet, if people are passionate about this industry then they need to prepare themselves for when the opportunity arises. Apart from this however, the question shows just how little the person understands what a university qualification offers. A degree is not just about specific subject knowledge. A university education develops high level skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, oral and written communication skills, leadership and more. An educated society enables us to be better citizens, participate in political decision-making, challenge assumptions, appreciate diversity and in general, live better lives.
University graduates are still in a better position to progress from less-skilled roles to higher level jobs than those without a university qualification. And when the world economy improves, then graduates will be in the best position to take advantage of increased opportunities. What goes up must come down and vice-versa, and these cycles will continue until the world finally blows itself up for good!
In the meantime, don’t despair. Make sure you know how to look for jobs, how to connect with people, how to present yourself and prepare for interviews. Take part in extra-curricular activities on campus or join one of the leadership programmes to enhance your employability skills and make valuable contacts. Every day there are lost opportunities and every day there are also new opportunities. People die, people move out of the region, people retire and people change jobs for all sorts of reasons. Persistence, patience and preparedness pays. If your job search is not going anywhere then get yourself to your Careers Office now!