back to article UK graduates face bleak future as teachers

Final year students in the UK are steering well clear of jobs in banking, finance and property this year, and only one in three have got themselves a job offer. The traditional "milkround" of pre-exam recruitment has seen job offers fall by a third. Half of students are worried that even if they were offered a graduate job, the …

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This be my title

"Half of students are worried that even if they were offered a graduate job, the offer could be withdrawn before they start work or they'll get laid off within a year."

Scaremongering press ftw, why would anyone be worried about something that hasnt happened yet and they potentially have little control over? Seems the press have done a good job at making people believe the outlook is bleak

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Anonymous Coward

And that's precisely why

I decided against university.

If I want to learn something I'll go to the library. University isn’t about learning. It's about improving your career prospects by gaining qualifications, a by-product of which might be actually learning something. But it doesn’t seem to be what inspires most people to go.

And since no one in this country has any decent career prospects for the next few years anyway university is a waste of time and money. It's still a good way to pickle your liver, though.

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There are degrees of degree

OK, this won't be news to anyone - but it's still true.

Sadly, not all degree subjects are equal. Some are more job-worthy than others (and some are really just a three year long party). However, the rot starts long before going to university - with the choice of A level subjects. It seems that a lot of children are encouraged to select subjects they enjoy. For example: geography, religious studies and french - rather than a mix that would form a coherent basis for further study, and dare I say it, a job at the end of it all.

Once they start applying to universities with such a mish-mash of qualifications (and again, being encouraged to select university courses they like - rather than ones which have job prospects to back them up), the choice ranges from the useless (erm, philosophy) through the criminally pointless (classics) to possibly even worse: media studies.

In practice, a lot of kids simply drift into a university course either through lack of direction from their schools - who like to promote tertiary education, as it helps their results look good, or parental pressure, or just because they don't fancy the idea of starting on the 9 to 5, even if they could get a job.

If this situation makes children re-think the idea of going to university and racking up enough debt to see them financially crippled for years to come, and just as (un)employable as if they'd got a job at age 18 then maybe it has some, small, benefits.

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Anonymous Coward

Just think

That £150 billion printed money that was ploughed into faux financial assets, would have been 1 million small business start up loans of £150,000 each.

That £600 billion in deficit spending for more faux financial assets & propping up industry would make another 4 million small business loans.

i.e. 5 million small business start up loans, from the bailout money wasted alone so far.

Even Jacqui and her £12 billion surveillance spending would have paid for 80,000 start up loans.

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great expectations

'Expected starting salaries dropped for the first time since the survey began in 1995 to an average of £22,300.'

what the cluck! you'll be lucky to find a Job down here in Devon for more than £15,000 at the moment, even as a graduate with a decent degree.

(case in point, I graduated in 2004 with masters in Physics and even then best starting salary I could find was £16,000, an now the market is worse!)

bah!

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Boffin

@ AC

Your argument doesn't make sense. Surely going to university is a better idea than ever now? Three or four years of shelter from the job market, emerge when things are picking up, rather than trying to find a job in a market where "no one ... has any decent career prospects".

Also the idea that learning is about pieces of paper is a bit simplistic. Your education gets you your first job, your experience gets you your second. The financial benefits of starting on a higher salary are quite well understood. The real point is made by pete - it's what you study and where it is going to get you that is important.

Although describing classics as criminally pointless seems a little harsh - we don't need many classicists, but any civilised society does need a few people to study (and motivate the preservation of) the artifacts and history of civilisations that laid the foundations for our own way of life...

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No job

"steering well clear of jobs in banking, finance and property"

Um, shouldn't that be the other way round? The jobs are steering clear of them (and everyone else) because there are no jobs in those areas. Nor should there be, given the mess made by the present incumbents!

Not sure they should be considering teaching either. No-one is qualified to teach (or govern, come to that) without some experience of what the rest of us regard as normality.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a final year cs student.

And I'm far too busy with my dissertation to even think about looking for work at the moment. One thing I have noticed among my peers is more people doing postgraduate studies just to keep them busy over the recession. I intend to look for work once I finish my degree, but I'm not going to begrudge a bit of responsibility-free work in the bookies for a while. Apparently the job situation is a little less bleak up here (Aberdeen) due to a lot of IT being linked with the oil industry.

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W

Those born post-war, but pre-punk have a lot to answer for.

Let me fix the title for you:

"UK graduates face bleak future as teachers^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H"

I don't know exactly what the answer is, but something's amiss with a setup where graduates exit full-time education with (for many) a debt of the thick end of 1 year's starting salary before they've even done a day's work, if not more.

Traditionally a mortgage would be 3x - 3.5x your salary, as a maximum. 4x for some graduates was commonplace until a few months ago. So were 100% mortgages (nowt wrong with that in a stable housing market, for folk with decent employment prospects).

Take into account that student debt of 1 year's salary and affordability is effectively ratcheted down to around 2.5x - 3x times your starting salary. Saving's not a real option for the graduate of today, with debts like that.

So assuming you could wangle a 100% mortgage, and stretched to 3x your salary, that gives an average somewhere just shy of £68,000.

Factor in the (still historically high) UK house prices, and £68,000 won't get you very much at all, wherever you live in the UK.

So let's say that you're not single. You're a couple with two incomes. Perhaps, after earning your degree, getting a job, and wangling a mortgage for a modest flat... perhaps you might be in a position to think about having kids at the age of 30 or so, assuming you've ended up with a decent job after graduation and stuck with your career in order to get a decent year on year rise to be able to cover the childcare when one of you goes back to work. Or, if you're lucky, to be able to have anything other that two parents working two 37.5 hour+ weeks. And maybe, just maybe, after a couple of years, if things are still on track, you might be able to think about having another kid, moving out of your flat and into a small 3 bed house and getting on with something approaching what was once a traditional adult life....

Well done. Now, it's the year 2058. You're 70 years old and about to retire. You did remember to pay a decent' whack into a personal pension from the age of 30 at the very latest, didn't you? No? Oh dear. What do you mean "I was paying off my student debt and whacking great mortgage"...

Who'd be a graduate today? In fact, who'd be anyone under 30 today? I'm 30, and consider myself to have taken one for the team, but have only narrowly escaped alot of the burdens that today's young peeps face.

Let's be honest, personal credit history aside (well done you for always paying your credit card off in full every month - give yourself a pat on the back) over the last 20-30 years, this country has systematically delayed paying into the pensions pot. And it we now have a target of 50% of the population having university degree, but without wanting to pay for it.

As I said, I don't know exactly what the answer is, but something's amiss. And my eyes are on the 35-65 year olds.

Those born post-war, but pre-punk have a lot to answer for.

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Coat

To quote Terry Pratchett...

"I didn't go to university. Didn't even finish A-levels. But I have sympathy for those who did."

I didn't go to university either! Glad about it? Hell yes!

Apparently the average graduate salary before this credit crunch malarkey started was actually around £18k, not the £22k suggested in the document, but then lets not forget that 90% of statistics are made up on the spot!

Mine's the one with the P60 in the pocket!

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'...' is not a valid title

I'm about to graduate this year, looks like I'll have a fun time finding a job! I guess I can still live off my loan money for a few months after graduating anyway, so I have time before I get desperate and start stacking shelves for a living.

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@W

I think the answer for the pension shortfall would be a large population cull. If only there was some kind of virulent disease that could cause a global pandemic & kill off a large percentage of the population.......

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W

Hmmm

@ Pete:

>"It seems that a lot of children are encouraged to select subjects they enjoy"

-Heaven forbid that people should study what they enjoy rather than do what's required for an employment market shaped by gov policy.

@AC:

>"University isn’t about learning. It's about improving your career prospects by gaining qualifications"

-I suspect you're not far from the crux of the problem here. Not every form of time higher education needs to be a full-time Bachelors/Masters degree. One idea of higher learning has been (for all intents and purposes) commoditised as a one-size-fits-all proposition, put in a box, packaged, and sold-off. All at the expense of supporting a 'rich tapestry' of learning opportunities open to folk of all directions and abilities.

@ AC

>"4 million small business start up loans of £150,000 each"

-If that message ever hit home in the general populace, there'd be riots in the streets. But just imagine: 4 million small businesses, each with 10 employees. That's the whole adult population accounted for. So on one level of wild theory, we could have razed this country to the ground and then, over the next 20 years or so, set about rebuilding it from scratch (with those 4 million small businesses) into something more attractive than the future currently awaiting us. You can see where dictators get their ideas from, eh? But seriously, the scale of these figures shows you how ripped off the vast majority of the population A) have been in the past, and B) will be in the future.

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I went to Uni

And I'm glad I went. Not only did I start on a higher than my fellow non-3rd level employees, I have progressed up the software engineering ladder faster than them.

But then, some people are happy to have a job that involves formatting drives.

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Stop

The problem is....

....there are too many graduates and therefore the value is far less.

At one time being a graduate was a worthy title. Now to an employer a graduate means one of the many with an inappropriate degree and unrealistic job/salary expectations.

We really need to get back to just letting the most deserving go to university and the rest can learn a decent trade or get a job and work their way up.

Either that or give full grants to subjects that may actually put money on the table and lead to a proper worthwhile career and let those that want to study 'media studies' or 'the classics' for the 3 billionth time, pay full whack for the priviliege.

We may then end up with folks that are more worthwhile to society.

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Joke

Bugger...!

> i.e. 5 million small business start up loans, from the bailout money wasted alone so far.

Whats that, 5 million startups offering bins made from tesco bags, smoked haddock airfreshner and indoor fireworks for the under 5's will never see the light of day...?

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Anonymous Coward

Engineering

If engineering (and public sector -- why lump them together?) applications are up, then what have engineering graduates done up till now?

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Boffin

@AC: 13:07

We had two come through our company last year, one was a postgrad student and the other was starting on a DEng scheme, no less. They both left to go work for a "financial start-up" or some such. I wonder where they are now ..?

Sure enough, if I had been brought up to think that money is everything, if I owed tens of thousands after graduation instead of just a couple, and if derivatives trading was in the "in thing" in the early 90's, then I may have taken the same route. Instead of slogging my guts out in engineering.

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Alien

@Steve

You may joke, but what if that was the way forward? With 5 million startups there's bound to be a glut of duffers making haddock flavoured 'In the Night Garden' binliners, but the odds are stacked in favour of there being at least a few winners, and the chances are you'd end up with a majority of people eeking out a living doing something they actively enjoy. Who could ask for more?

It's a perennial problem getting anything new kicked off, getting funding for a new business is hard and mostly tedious - everyone should have a go, see how they get on - and so if it were easier to 'try out' a business idea, who'd really care if it failed? They could adapt and try something else - perhaps some sort of evolutionary theory for socio-economics?

Perhaps it is us that are at fault, trying our best to hold on to the old way, propping up a failed model. Like keeping a breeding pair of Dodo's on life support - let them go, their time has past, time for something new.

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I agree with jason

Too many people receive degrees now. I finished what was regarded as a fairly difficult course a few years back, and to be honest anyone with the ability to learn past exam papers could've got a good grade.

My overall impression of a lot of students then (when I was one) and now is that there are lots of 'spoon feds' who just seem to expect a 'career' handed to them.

A lack of jobs isn't a bad thing. It means more competition, and so the better ones will get the employment. Half the grads that start working where I am now are useless for the first year, because they still think it's clever to go drinking three nights a week and need everything spelled out to them because they're still in spoon-feeding mode.

A degree shouldn't be seen as a guaranteed job, it should be seen as a £15k gamble. And I'm not going to sympathise with high student debt - I owe £12k, and they don't collect if I'm unemployed. What's to cry about?

And don't get me started on pointless degrees like Egyptology and all that...

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agree with Jason & Ian

A degree has lost all of it's value, unfortunately it started right when i was going to university, when the government decided it would look good if everyone went.

The result is that a degree no longer makes you stand out from the pack, rather than having one being a bonus, we are now at the stage where not having one is a hindrance.

Unfortunately, nobody wants to train people anymore, they expect to be able to hire fully qualified people. Unfortunately, no matter how good a degree course, it will never make you qualified for a job. Which leaves a bit of a gap in the market.

I consider myself lucky to have eventually found a job as a trainee software developer 5 years ago, after endless non-responses, despite a software engineering degree!

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> And don't get me started on pointless degrees like Egyptology and all that...

What you should primarily be learning at University is how to think, because you sure as **** didn't learn that in School in recent years. Most actual knowledge from college will be pretty out of date in the medium term at least - especially anything that relates to management theory and all that sort of trendy BS...

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Boffin

Uni ? Pah!

My story is similar..

I graduated in 1996, with TER of about 50 (Australian Uni System) So I was middle of the road..

I took a year off and worked, to save for my uni days..

I started Uni in 98, enrolling in a BSc (Chemistry). I really loved it, I have always beena huge science nut, and I really liked the course.

The problem I ran into, was despite the hype, really I had three career paths.. Uni Lecturer... Science teacher, or research.

This is back in 98-99, when the Howard government cut the R&D taxbreak for all companies, and killed science research in Australia, outside of Govt funded places.

So on good advice from working scientists, I dropped the Chem course, kicked about and did a Diploma Course in Networking, IT was my other great love.

I never looked back. I have been able to travel the world, and earn enough money now at 30, to make most science teachers (my age) cry.

Unless your doing Law or Med, or something of high study level, go for a more practical course, or become a tradie, plumbers, electrican's and the like, will always be in demand.

my 0.02

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 29th April 08:55

True, but subtley so (IME only the *very* smartest people can

learn in a totally self-directed way).

I'm a physics lecturer at one of Those Two universities in the

UK. When I was an undergrad twenty years ago, I spent a huge

amount of time in the library. The lecturers gave you a roadmap,

but the journey of learning How To Do Physics was made by

fighting your way through weekly sheafs of difficult problems via

poring through the books and arguing with your mates about the

problems into the small hours. I can't deny a fair amount of

boozing but we knew what we were there for and we got the bloody

work done.

Nowadays, we lecturers always lament the decline of A levels. Sad, though

we can deal with that: in physics, UK universities have moved to a

4-year degree with the first year soaking up a lot of the old A-level

material. However the truly insidious problem is what we call "A-Level

syndrome", which is a result of the way high-school teaching is now

done "to the test". Students these days want their lectures to cover

every detail of the subject in minute detail; they want all their

lectures to be accompanied by printed handouts which contain all the

aforsaid in case they oversleep; they want their problem sets to

contain standard equations into which they plug numbers; they want to

know how to pass exams, not how to do physics for its own

sake. Recently I was digging down into the implications of an

innocuous-looking problem when one of the students said "I don't care,

if it's not going to be on the exam."

This is at the top of the tree in terms of student intake. Lord knows

how my peers at the "lower ranked" (whatever that means) unis must

feel.

I openly admit I've got some fairly lefty tendencies (albeit matched

by strong libertarianism and a preference for free markets rather than

central planning). But not even the USSR tried to make 50% of the

population have a university education. I don't personally see how keeping such

large numbers of 18-21 year olds at high school helps us economically

or socially, and it is inarguably degrading the sort of education that I think

should be delivered to a smaller fraction of people in that age group.

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for what its worth

Im carrying at least £16,000 in SLC loans, im not particularly bothered, but I am aware that the interest accumulating is not insubstantial. Im a bit more worried about my interest free overdrafts, but I do expect to get a position sooner rather than later. Just finished my phd, and the studentship didnt leave much room for paying down historic debt.. but anyway, most of the comments here make a great deal of common sense. as usual, rarely reflected in public sentiment and government policy. A few thoughts:

education education education. fine, but as pointed out by many on here, degrees are not always equal.

saying that, people should ONLY enter a degree if they are aware of the job market, but always the subject should be enjoyable. 3 years+ is a long time if you arent interested, and only thinking of the money

personally though, I think even the shit degrees have a use. it can educate people socially, alter attitudes and generally makes for a more open minded individual. I can almost always spot a graduate after a few minutes of talking. despite most undergraduates being wankers for the duration, they generally grow up. the poor bastards from sink estates and lower working class families (such as mine) need this atmosphere, or they dont grow up.

we dont make anything in this country any more, limited natural resources. London spins money, directing it to countries that DO make things. we need to subsidise science and engineering, it created society as we know it, and we must use our rapidly diminishing talent pool properly before its lost.

mine is a ticket to join our american cousins

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Re Pete

Although I do agree with what you say Philosophy and Classics and way above degrees such as media studies, which is again leagues above such twash as Sports Science. Alot of my cousins are now at uni studying this hoping to get well paid jobs as glorified coaches for premier league footballers. Sadly I think they will be working in call centres.

Science and Red Brick for the win :)

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Quality of Students

Having come to the end of my final year at university this subject is pretty close to home. Looking around at my classmates I see why the older / more experienced folk are derisive of students. Of my class of 20/30 CS graduates 80% of them are poor quality programmers who scrape by the practical assessments and have a very limited understanding of programming outside of the examples given in lecturers..

The government are to blame with their ever moving attempt to force more people into heavy debt via student loans.

As for a job after uni, I have one lined up, stacking shelves and learning new skills until I can find a real job.

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Unhappy

Debt

I'm not sure where the figures for the average debt for a student this year came from...

In my experience it's a minimum of 9 grand in tuition fees for the 3 years

Then there's the loan for eating/sleeping/drinking (which most people take out), which is a minimum of £3300 based on income, being about another 10 grand.

by the time you add interest and inflation to these over 3 years you're at about 20 grand owed.

i find it quite hard to believe that there are that many parents around who will fund their kids through uni to drag this average down to the £15000 stated in the article.

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