If some of the recent doom-mongering news reports are to be believed, British graduates will emerge from their three years of hard study to be greeted by little more than a desolate jobless wasteland. News reports weave tales of unemployment woe and only end up advising post-grads that they’re about to spend so much time in the job centre they may as well ask for a key to the place.
Just how accurate is this view, though? Whilst on one hand you have reports claiming that jobless young Brits could link arms and stretch all the way from London to Edinburgh, other stats claim that British employment levels are head and shoulders above many other global players, such as Germany and the US.
The reality, of course, is likely to be somewhere between the two extremes.
Those graduates who are currently mired in their dissertations first need to get up to speed with the terms often used to hide the realities behind political posturing before worrying about jobs.
A recent example came during the recession, when the economy finally turned the corner into growth. Political orchestrators of this were keen to paint it as a “recovery” (with good reason, of course, as jobs and reputations were on the line). It’s worth remembering, however, that this was one period of growth after sustained months of descent – so on the graph curve that was to one day become V-shaped, the results were only just out of their nadir at the centre of that ‘V’.
This should sound a warning for graduates to not take the reports at face value but instead seek the bigger picture, one that is often obscured by clever wording and wilful obstruction.
Manufacturing successes at home
Looking outside of these reports, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful. The UK is currently in the process of re-establishing itself as a manufacturing powerhouse, keen to reinforce the long-held belief from across the world that British-made products are vastly superior to their global competitors when it comes to design and innovation.
Elsewhere, the property market remains buoyant, with more people now working in the industry than ever before. Plus, the creation of more jobs brings with it a steady decline in the number of applicants for each, which is no doubt good news for graduates as it means competition for each position isn’t so rife.
Don’t be mean, average
For graduate salaries, it’s worth going back to the issue of analysing the figures and press releases effectively. Often, reports say the “average” salary is a certain amount, but this can change drastically when considering exactly which average has been taken. The mean, for example, is the traditional average; dividing the total by the number of contributing numbers. Whilst most widely used, this isn’t always the most accurate indicator. For more representative averages, the median shows which is the middle value when all have been organised into ascending order, or the mode highlights that figure which crops up most often.
Recently, median figures (which is arguably the most representative indicator) put the average graduate salary at £29,000.
Armed with all this information, this summer’s graduates should not only be able to see positives in Britain’s job market, but also cut through the superlatives that otherwise obstruct the realities.