Graduates ‘lack forethought’ in career planning

With the number of this year's unemployed graduates likely to hit 30,000 just six months after graduation, a study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit has found that, despite the difficulties of the current employment market, almost two-thirds (63%) of the 2009 graduate cohort had failed to visit their university careers service during their first year at university, while fewer than half had attended any organised campus events.  The results reinforce the key importance of early career planning.

HECSU's ambitious, longitudinal Futuretrack study (undertaken by the Institute of Employment Research at the University of Warwick) surveyed almost 50,000 students who were either finishing their first year or starting their second year between June and December of 2007.

It also found that fewer than a third of degree students weren't planning any further training or education on completion of their courses, expecting instead to go straight into employment after graduating.  In addition, students on vocational courses were more likely to feel that their experience had reinforced their career plans than those studying discipline-specific academic subjects.  (The full report is due to be published next month.)

HECSU research director Jane Artess, who commissioned the study, says: "Students usually have a pretty rosy outlook when starting university, with their initial focus on making friends, social activities and generally having fun.  We've surveyed them as they reach the end of their first year to provide insight into their actual experiences, painting a more accurate and rounded picture of university life.  It's concerning to hear that, despite the importance of early career planning being extensively reported and the wide availability of resources, the majority of students lack a long-term perspective.  We can now see those same students entering the workplace, immensely underprepared for a job-hunt during a recession."

Professor Kate Purcell of the Institute for Employment Research at Warwick adds: "The study found those who had entered university with clear career objectives were sometimes less clear about the detail of how they might develop their careers.  Those who had progressed to university as ‘the normal thing to do' without a great deal of thought about future employment were most likely to say their views on their future careers were no clearer.  The fact is, despite the efforts made by higher education institutions to encourage students to consider options and explore sources of information and guidance from the outset of their studies, the majority had made little effort to investigate the resources available to them."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

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