Can’t find a decent graduate job that uses your degree properly? It’s not your fault. A world-renowned expert has claimed that many of today’s job-hunting and under-employed graduates are the victims of businesses’ failure to work effectively with schools, colleges and universities to ensure young people leave education with skills employers actually want. Much more must be done to help resolve the so-called “graduate skills gap” – and fast.

Speaking at yesterday’s annual lecture hosted by education research charity The Edge Foundation, the straight-talking author, CEO and analyst Nicholas Wyman gave a no-nonsense presentation voicing concerns that the graduate skills gap is leaving a crazy situation where the UK has “People without jobs – and jobs without people”.

Author and CEO Nicholas Wyman,  pictured at The Edge Annual Lecture 2015

Author and CEO Nicholas Wyman, pictured at The Edge Annual Lecture, London 13 October 2015

To kick off his presentation, Wyman spelled out a problem that many Graduate Fog readers are all too familiar with – but is rarely distilled so clearly at a public event:

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Questioning the ethics of urging huge numbers of young people to invest tens of thousands of pounds in a university degree when they may struggle to find a job that fits when they graduate, Wyman pointed out that most of the jobs available in the UK now that offer meaningful, rewarding and well-paid work do not require a degree:

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This isn’t just a problem for graduates – it is a problem for everybody. And Wyman predicts it is likely to worsen – as a short supply of local workers with the right skills will force employers to move jobs abroad, making matters worse for those left in the UK:

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One answer, Wyman says, is to improve the status of non-university career pathways. He noted that the UK is held back by a snob factor among schools and parents, saying it is very common to find education, employment and industry experts heaping praise on apprenticeships and vocational training – “But not for my kids.” Apparently, things are different in Germany – where youth unemployment is not nearly as bad as it is in the UK:

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Graduate Fog’s founder Tanya de Grunwald attended the lecture – and was happy to see that Wyman laid NONE of the blame at the feet of young people themselves.

Unlike many UK commentators, Wyman made no mention of graduate “job snobbery” or “entitled” young people who don’t want to work hard, or can’t be bothered to start at the bottom (common themes among some UK commentators).

Instead, he said it was down to businesses and education and training providers to work together more effectively, and to persuade parents and students that there are other alternatives to a university degree:

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Where this leaves today’s job-seeking and under-employed graduates is unclear. We have invited Wyman to contribute a comment below this post – hopefully he will be able to offer his thoughts. In the meantime, Graduate Fog advises job-seeking and under-employed graduates reading this to expand the nature of the roles or industries you would consider working in. Spend less time sending applications to widely-advertised roles – and more time researching employers who offer training as part of the job. And above all, do not sign up for any further study or courses unless you are absolutely sure you will end up with skills that employers really value.


Does the ‘graduate skills gap’ explain why you’re struggling to find a job that fits with your skills? If so, should you have studied a different degree – or do you wish you’d skilled university altogether? What do you think is the main cause of the ‘graduate skills gap’ and who – if anybody – is to blame?


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