Graduates in Galloway struggling to find work

MANY University graduates based in Dumfries and Galloway are struggling to find work despite their degree, according to the region’s award winning Citizens Advice Service.

On Friday the Scottish CAB network published the results of a nation-wide survey which revealed that many graduates are unemployed or forced to work in low-wage, short-term jobs which do not require a degree. Now the local Citizens Advice Service has confirmed that many of the graduates who responded to the survey are from Dumfries and Galloway.

The national CAB survey interviewed 960 recent Scottish graduates. Key findings are:

56.3% said they had been unemployed for a period after graduating. Of these, 20% had been unemployed for over a year.

24.8% said they were currently ‘under-employed’ in low-paid or short-term positions that did not require a degree.

Of those who were unemployed or under-employed, only 15.2% said they were confident of finding a graduate-level job in future.

59.9% said the careers advice provided at school had been poor.

78.4% said the jobcentre was unhelpful in finding them a graduate-level job, and 64.2% said it was unhelpful in finding them any sort of job.

Commenting on the survey, Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service Chief Executive Sue Irving said: “These trends are certainly reflected in the cases we see at the Citizens Advice Service. Of course everyone is suffering financially at the moment, not just graduates, and we provide a service for all citizens whether they have a degree or not. But there has certainly been an increase in the number of university educated people coming through our doors with money worries.

“Going to university these days almost certainly means you will be in debt by the time you graduate. In the past, the trade-off has been that you assume your degree will help you find a well-paid job at the end of it. But for many now that’s just not the case. So we see quite a lot of people now who have a degree, no job and a mountain of debt.

“Such people tend to feel deeply frustrated that they have been unable to make the progress in their lives that they expected. Having been told a degree was the key to a prosperous future, and having worked hard and sacrificed a lot for 4 years to get one, they’ve become caught instead in a culture of unemployment or low wages and short term contracts.

“Of course that’s not the case for everyone. Many graduates do go on to find well-paid jobs. But many others do struggle and our advisers here are seeing more and more of those. And it’s heart-rending to hear them tell you that they feel their lives are on hold. Some even question whether it was worth the time, money and effort they put into getting their degrees.

“We would never say that a degree is not worthwhile, but this survey reveals the extent of the crisis that many graduates are facing. We feel It is important that students and graduates are given much more support in the transition from graduation into work.”

Sue Irving is keen to stress that the Citizens Advice Service is there to help those who are experiencing any sort of problem. She said: “Anyone in Dumfries and Galloway who has financial worries like debt or low income should come and see our expert Money Advice team. Whether you are a graduate or not, we will help you manage your debt and finances better. Our help is free, impartial and completely confidential.

“And meanwhile, any unemployed graduates who would be interested in volunteering with us should also give us a call and ask about our volunteer training programme. As well as helping the community, volunteering can be a great way to boost your CV, learn new skills and make good contacts.”