Saturday, 17 July 2010

How the economic crisis is hurting undergraduates

The current recession is hurting everyone, and no one has been immune to its effects. It has affected everyone universally. However, I can't help but notice that it has unduly affected undergraduates and graduates. I have seen this effect first hand.

With money being tight, fewer and fewer employers are hiring undergraduates, as they simply don't have the budget to do so. Those that do have the budget are using them as cheap labour, rather than actually investing the resource to train them adequately.

Many undergraduates are working tirelessly for an employer, trying to impress them and gain that valuable experience which will differentiate them from their peers. So that come the time for them to enter the job market, they will be the one who is successful in bagging that all important job. However, many are simply not receiving that experience. They are not being trained or receiving any kind of useful experience.

This is not the fault of the employer. With the best will in the world, they are just strapped for cash and cannot afford to give them the training they require and deserve, or are under resourced. Equally though, the undergraduate is blameless and is powerless to improve the situation for themselves.

The outcome is that many undergraduates are entering the job market without the necessary experience or skills to perform the job they are being asked to do. This is not the fault of either the undergraduate, or the employer who employed them. Both are victims of the current economic crisis.

What of the long term situation? As each generation of undergraduate enters the job market without the necessary skills or experience, are we just making the situation a whole lot worse? Will this problem make any economic recovery more difficult? After all, today's undergraduates are tomorrow's managers, supervisors and leaders.

Although an undergraduate may gain the necessary experience and skills eventually, it will take them much longer to do so. In the meantime, we have a raft of undergraduates who may not be up to doing the job through no fault of their own.

We need to have greater investment in our undergraduates. After all, the entire economy will suffer if we do nothing. Employers taking on undergraduates need to invest as much as they can into giving them the skills they need. Employers should be encouraged to take on undergraduates, even if this means government subsidies.

Over the longer term, everyone benefits from improving the lot of the undergraduate, not just the undergraduate themselves!


  1. Very true - it is just a shame that the employer seems to benefit more from not offering so much training and so many learning opportunities - mean while the undergraduates continue to work hard to try and impress...

  2. The situation does seem to favour the employer more than the undergraduate, but I don't think we should read too much into that. While there are probably less scrupulous employers who may wish to exploit the situation, there are probably a greater number who genuinely wish to train the undergraduates, even if only to recruit them when they graduate as a cheaper alternative to more experienced employees.