Apparently the cost of a degree has risen to around £40,000, this ignores beer money, pizzas and window repairs, which could bring the total closer to £70,000. Graduates ultimately need to eventually pay the £40,000 student loan back and therefore need gainful employment. Trouble is the jobs that would utilise their new found skills are hard to come by. Thus many graduates understandably grab anything that is going. But herein lies a dilemma brought on by weakened human resources.
Many HR departments have disappeared, replaced by third party agents or busy employers looking for staff. The in-tray becomes crammed with applicants allowing the fall back HR function to determine those to be interviewed based on paper qualifications rather than aptitude.
This had led to an exaggeration of skills deemed to be appropriate. Heads of departments can preen their feathers they have employed a bunch of firsts. But the reality is they lack experience or aptitude in a role that belittles their ultimate ability. The flip side is only 15 per cent of all graduates are in a role that utilises their degree discipline. And there is a further deep-seated issue. Graduates are colonising jobs that do not require degree ability. This effectively blocks other candidates with more matched competence and academic ability.
This has a knock on effect. Apprenticeships, that bastion of skilled resource has fallen behind in providing more suited employees matched to the employment market. Thirty three per cent of the police force are graduates. Twenty-five years ago just five per cent of graduates were in the police.
As the implications of Brexit loom perhaps we should reflect on the Mandarin word for chaos. This is made up of two words, the first meaning danger, the second means opportunity. Already it has been revealed our reliance on Brussels means we lack skills in trade negotiations, project management, the civil service and advanced manufacturing. In order to overcome the short term chaos we need effective educational planning in the opportunity the Brexit process presents. This should overcome the mismatch in graduate and apprenticeship skills but needs some clever political footwork if this is to be achieved.
The findings of a recent CIPD report into alternative paths into employment can be found here