STUDENT LIFE / FEB. 20, 2014
version 5, draft 5

UK Graduates Wish They Had Taken Vocational Routes


Roughly four in ten UK graduates struggle to land a job six months after finishing their course. The study contacted by revealed that a quarter of graduates are still job hunting for 12 months after they graduate while one in 16 end up doing unskilled work such as manning rubbish or sorting mail.

The survey has also uncovered that:

- Almost half of graduates wish they had taken a vocational route instead.

- One third of graduate job seekers apply for more than 20 job vacancies a month.

- The majority of graduates could travel 35 miles to a job interview while one in six are willing to travel more than 100 miles.

The findings follow a separate study which underlined that Britain’s top performing graduates are more likely to work independently as freelancers for different companies, than looking for a job for life with an employer.

Mike Fetters, graduate director of, argued

Our research shows that many graduates are starting to wonder if they should have studied for a more vocational qualification as a more effective route to employment. Although a degree is an essential qualification for some industries, school leavers need to think more carefully about which route to employment is best for them as some may be more suited to an apprenticeship scheme”.

Vocational Education is Scientifically Proven to Outperform Academic Education

Researchers Thjis Bol and Herman van de Werfhorst studied the impact of vocational qualifications on employment, gathering data from 29 countries, including the UK. They found that educational systems offering highly specific vocational qualifications had much lower levels of youth unemployment than countries whose students followed only an academic route. Students in countries with a high-level of vocational orientation spent less time searching for work.

Promoting Academic Routes is Nonsense

UK’s Chancellor George Osborne announced last autumn his decision to create 30,000 more student places in order to abolish the cap on university places.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, criticized the plan as a populist measure that hadn’t been properly thought through and had created a ‘glut of graduates’. According to him

It sounded good and very left-wing and suggested it was promoting social mobility. In fact, because it wasn’t clearly linked with occupational opportunities it leaves a lot of young people who have worked hard without a job”.

All in all, school leavers have already started questioning whether a degree opens the door to a lucrative career. Considering the financial burden of tuition fees that leave students with massive debts, it is debatable whether doing an academic course is still a rewarding pursuit. Do you agree with my viewpoint? Please comment below.  

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