Is a degree a help or hindrance for job seekers?

image of shopper

Many graduates’ first job is in retail.

There’s a lot of talk in the media these days about graduate unemployment. And we all know how hard it is to get a graduate job. So those who have spent three or four years studying may well wonder whether it was all worth it.

The brutal truth is that it’s harder still if you don’t have a degree. According to the 2012 National Skills Bulletin, published last month, employment rates are significantly higher for graduates than for those without a degree.

This is borne out by CSO figures from the 2011 census, also released in July. This records that 39 per cent of those aged 15-24 were without work in April 2011, but unemployment among young people with third-level qualifications was much lower at 18 per cent. The average rate of unemployment for those with a third level qualification (of any age) was 8 per cent compared to the 19 per cent unemployment rate for the State overall.

Figures from the National Skills Bulletin show that the lowest unemployment rate in the Republic is among older graduates. Young graduates are still likely to get work in professional occupations but a growing number are taking up lower skilled jobs, for example in retail. This suggests that although you might need to get a stop-gap job straight after graduation, your prospects are likely to improve in the long term. The report also showed that for many jobs a third-level qualification is often a prerequisite.

So what lessons can you learn from this?

Firstly, don’t listen to the gloom-mongers talking up graduate unemployment. You are still better off with a degree than without one.

Second, think of your degree as a long-term investment. It may not pay off immediately – in the sense of getting a traditional ‘graduate job’ straight away – but it will help in the future.

Third, employers do value graduates. The National Skills Bulletin also noted ‘some concern among employers that graduate emigration has begun to adversely affect the supply of skills and the labour market’.


3 Comments on “Is a degree a help or hindrance for job seekers?”

  1. […] if you don’t get a graduate-level job straight away? The statistics show that many young graduates begin their working life in lower skilled jobs, such as admin or retail, […]

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  3. Greetings! Very useful advice within this article!

    It’s the little changes that make the most important changes. Many thanks for sharing!


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