The UK’s “picky” graduates are “playing hard to get” with employers, and many are actually turning down jobs, if new reports are to be believed.

Can this really be true? Or are some sections of the media just determined to make out that young people don’t really want to work at all?

Finding out the truth to these questions is particularly important as news breaks today that David Cameron is planning make jobseekers aged 18-21  (which could include some graduates) undertake community work if they cannot find work or training to occupy them. This idea has been kicking around for a while, but now it seems it may well be put into action.

In addition, a recent news story in Metro suggested that one in seven graduate job offers is turned down by the applicant. Reporter Oliver Wheaton wrote:

“As Britain is finally heading out of the recession graduates hoping to find jobs are trying a new technique: Playing hard to get.

“Gone are the days of university graduates taking any job they can get, as nearly half of employers said they had unfilled graduate position last year.

“Many graduates are reportedly being offered roles, before backing out because they want to continue looking for better paid or more senior positions.

“…The overall ‘turn-down’ rate — the proportion of graduates that did not accept a position offered to them — was 14.4%.

“Several employers also thought this may be the result of graduates having many job offers and deciding which one to go with late in the process.

“Graduates might be more picky about the roles they take these days, but the path to a dream job is still a familiar route, with companies giving a quarter of graduate roles to people who have worked for them, often as interns.”

The report appeared to suggest a widespread phenomenon of thousands of picky graduates turning down roles – but all may not be as it seems. For starters, the figures the report referred to were from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), whose members are big corporations who run the big graduate schemes.

As Graduate Fog’s founder Tanya de Grunwald told The Debrief, there are numerous reasons why applicants to these schemes may turn down offers. With many firms’ recruitment processes taking six months or more, many applicants will simply have changed their minds by the time the offer is made.

And yes, others may simply have had a better offer. As Tanya told The Debrief, perhaps it’s no bad thing for employers to know that they don’t always hold all the cards:

“You could call these graduates picky, or you could call them smart. Either way, I don’t think employers can complain. These grads are only playing the big firms at their own game.’

In addition, Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the AGR, told Graduate Fog that the ‘turn-down rate’ for graduate jobs had not changed since last year. And, if you looked at it another way around, you could say that six in seven graduate job offers are accepted. But of course, that’s not nearly such a good story.

If yes, on what grounds? If no, why not? Do you think the graduate scheme application process encourages applicants to play employers off against each other, shopping around for the best offer? If you’re desperate for work, what is your response to the news that some graduates are turning down jobs?

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