BY ROMANO MULLIN
Irish graduates are facing a crisis of confidence after completing third level education, a recent report has found. The trendence European Graduate Barometer, a pan-European study that surveyed 343,000 students and graduates across 950 universities, found that for the first time since the financial crisis began, Irish students are increasingly pessimistic about their career prospects.
Although Irish student confidence is down across the board, students hoping to pursue careers in business, finance and the professions have particularly been affected. The survey found that they expect to make 34 unsuccessful applications before they find a job, and spend around 5.5 months in their search for a job. This is in contrast to earlier surveys in 2009, 2010 and 2011 when Irish student confidence was on par with the rest of Europe.
The picture was also gloomy for UK students in the same sectors, who reported identical figures to their Irish counterparts. They also expected to make 34 job applications and spend 5.5 months in a job search. This is especially worrying for Irish students, as the UK is their main emigration destination.
However, one Queen’s graduate urges students to be optimistic, despite the troubling economic situation. Anna Robinette graduated in 2012 with 2:1 in English and quickly found herself as an Assistant Production Editor in an Ipswich publishing house. When asked what advice she would give to incoming students, Anna said this: “University is the richest, most diverse environment you will ever experience in your life so make the most of the opportunities that are there – you won’t be employed from a 1st or 2:1 alone. Every experience counts.”
Other recent graduates are focusing on further study as a way to avoid the realities of the financial crisis and poor job market. One student had intended to pursue a Masters at Queen’s, but found the cost prohibitive and is intending on studying Journalism at Belfast Met. Another graduate had hoped to find a job related to her Sociology degree, but has been forced to “study a Masters because there are no jobs out there at all”.
The survey also found that 27 percent of Irish graduates expect to emigrate in order to find their first professional position. This is on a par with the rest of Europe and underlines the difficulties facing many graduates across the continent as they attempt to secure a stable future.