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Job Prospects ED THORNTON

EXPLORES A CONSEQUENCE OF OUR ADDICTION.

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our GCSEs get you into Sixth Form, your A-Levels get you into university, and your degree gets you a job, right? Wrong. Whilst the first two steps seem to hold true it is no longer the case that a degree is the deciding factor in the job market. More and more people are going to university, and every year a higher proportion of these graduates are awarded a 2:1. This means that a higher end degree loses its position as an achievement and ends up being nothing more than an overindulged necessity which does not distinguish a twentysomething job seeker from his peers any more than the fact that his CV cites ‘reading’ as an interest. I have heard some students remark that this is no bad thing: all we have to do is get the balance between work and play just right so that we enjoy university and still manage to come away as part of the graduate herd, happy with the fact that we can enter the world of internships without a single mark of individuality. However, if Fairy Liquid’s advertising has taught me one thing it is to be wary of false economy. Getting a 2:1 might be enough to see you through university unscathed, but at what cost? Employers need something to differentiate between candidates and if a degree no longer fills that function then another form of assessment will. Our new test comes in the form of

twin evils, namely Facebook stalking and excessive interviews. According to a study carried out by The Times: 1 in 5 employers uses Facebook to check out its candidates, and two thirds of those who do say it influences their deci-

DIGGING FOR ‘DIGITAL DIRT’ ON CANDIDATES IS NOT ILLEGAL AND IN MOST CASES I IMAGINE IT IS FAR MORE ILLUMINATING THAN ANY CURRICULUM VITAE. Quickly sions.

altering your Facebook profile and de-tagging hundreds of photos the day before application deadlines is a difficult task and only the lucky ones make it through. When I say ‘the lucky ones’ I mean the ones who now have the opportunity to go through a multitude of interviews and play teachers pet for a few months just to be told that they have been chosen among the masses for a special 10 week unpaid internship, at the end of which they may or may not be offered a job. I am not arguing for a change in the relative number of Second and First class degrees; a fall in the level of 2:1s would look terrible for the UK’s higher education system and an increase in the number of Firsts would only be counted as dumbing down. I am also certainly not telling anyone to work harder so that they can stand out from the rest of us with a distinguished First. Luckily there is another option:

In 2004 and 2007 the vice chancellor of Leicester University, Robert Burgess, compiled two reports looking for a replacement to current grading systems. His final idea was to keep our current system in place but for universities to also provide extra information on candidates in a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear). Hear reports will allow employers to see the exact grades that students earned in different papers and it will give employers an overall view of each student’s achievements. The new system is already being trialled in 18 universities across the country and is tipped to become commonplace for all universities as soon as 2010/2011. No doubt this will worry some students who will now fret not only about the class of their degree but also their Hear report, but remember, whilst a bottle of Fairy is more expensive, it is worth it in the long run. Our university work will become more important but that will mean a shift away from the importance of Facebook. The Minister for Higher Education, David Lammy, correctly pointed out that ‘Providing clear and transparent information is essential both for students and their future employers’. When more relevant information is available, job applications will be assessed on the achievements of the candidate and not on the photos of their private life.

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