The future of UK PLC remains in the hands of our stars of tomorrow. Today’s Graduates are tomorrows business leaders. The transition from University to the workplace has never been easy but in recent times has it ever been harder?
We are starting to see some evidence of an improvement in the number of opportunities for job seeking graduates. The research company High Fliers have suggested that graduate vacancies will rise by 12% this year, after falling 18% in 2009.
Competition is, however, fierce. PricewaterhouseCoopers is the biggest private sector graduate recruiter. In 2009 they received nearly 20,000 applications for 1000 places, an increase of more than 50%. This year they expect this number to rise yet further, having already received 6,000 applications by November.
How does a Graduate get ahead in the face of such fierce competition? Work experience is a huge positive in the job seekers favour. For those Graduates who couldn’t afford an Internship or any form of unpaid work experience, temporary work has historically presented a great opportunity to realise that gap on the CV. However, that opportunity could soon be taken away by the Agency Workers Directive.
I fully support the intentions behind the legislation, to ensure equality of benefits in the workplace for temporary and permanent employees. However, in practice the administrative burden and additional cost this places on employers ( suggested £1 billion pounds ) removes the benefit of employing temporary staff.
Ironically this cost is likely borne by the very people the legislation is supposed to protect. Temporary staff will suffer lower pay rates (traditionally temporary staff have enjoyed a higher hourly rate than their permanent equivalents) or businesses will simply decide the cost of employing temporary staff is too high. Existing permanent employees will work longer hours, increasing stress, chances of burn out, reductions in employee engagement and productivity at a time when UK PLC needs to enhance such issues to the full.
Historically one of the great strengths of the UK economy has been its flexible labour market. To deny the economy the flexibility it needs is at best irresponsible. We need to encourage innovation, job creation, flexibility and opportunity. None of our economic policies are addressing this.
Temporary work is a great opportunity to really test yourself in the workplace, unearth skills you didn’t know you had or even decide what you don’t want to do.
Through no fault of their own we are developing talented, educated, hungry and ambitious yet ultimately disaffected young people. Give flexibility back to employers and let them create opportunity. Big Government does nothing to improve job opportunities for future generations.