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Cath Everett

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Graduate unemployment at 15 year high


Graduate unemployment is now at a 15-year high, with one in five university leavers who entered the job market last year failing to get a job, according to official figures.

Data from the Office of National Statics revealed that the number of graduates who are available for work but unable to find any has nearly doubled during the recession from 10.6% in 2008 to 20% in the third quarter of last year, rising faster than unemployment across the UK as a whole (5.2% to 7.9%).

The news comes only a week after research suggested that more than 45 students would be applying for each graduate job during 2011.

It also comes only days after the Association of Graduate Recruiters indicated that there had been an 8.9% surge in graduate vacancies towards the end of 2010 despite a slow start. The body said that it expected the trend to continue during 2011, with a further rise in available positions of 3.8%.

National Union of Students president Aaron Porter said: “These new figures show that graduates are encountering an exceptionally hostile jobs market and the government persists with policies that put the burden of the country’s debt on the young.”

As a result, he called for the reinstatement of the £1 billion Future Jobs Fund, which is due to be closed in March but is used to fund temporary employment for English, Scottish and Welsh 18 to 24 year olds who have been out of work for more than six months.

But Minister for Employment Chris Grayling claimed that the Fund was not value for money. “As well as paying for the enormous debt left behind, young people are struggling to get into work despite the billions Labour squandered on schemes such as the New Deal and the Future Jobs Fund, which only offered short-term, public sector jobs that were unsustainable,” he said.

Meanwhile, unemployment among 16 to 17 year olds remains “historically high”, the ONS said. In the third quarter of 2010, 44.3% of this age group who had left school were unable to find work – the highest since comparable records began in 1992.

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