Ruth Laugesen writes:
Although New Zealand’s Generation Y is not as severely affected as Europe’s so-called “lost generation” by the global financial crisis that began to bite in 2009, experts say young people entering the job market now are at risk of “labour-market scarring”, of being trapped in low-paid and less-secure jobs, with long-term consequences. And with many new graduates having to settle for less-skilled positions, those without higher qualifications are being pushed even further down the job queue.
Jason Walker, managing director of recruitment agency Hays, says he is seeing many graduates taking jobs in call centres and in administration and support roles, traditionally work that does not require a tertiary qualification. “They seem to be fairly grateful to at least get an opportunity as afirst step to get into some sort of place of employment.”
The situation has “flipped” from five years ago, when new graduates could expect to have companies wooing them. “Unemployment was at 3.6%. There was no spare capacity. You could not buy experience anywhere. So you needed to take on and train good people. Graduates became king.
“They were called the Freddie Mercury generation – I want it all and I want it now. But that has changed. It was very much a product of the job market.”
A recent Committee for Auckland survey of key businesses found employers complaining that many young would-be employees lack “citizenship skills” – the ability to present well and communicate well. However, Walker says he has been impressed by today’s graduate job-seekers.
“There’s been a real change in attitude. It’s a move back to hard graft. They appreciate what they have to do, they have to go the extra mile, and those graduates who are very competitive will go out and try to find any sort of work that will give them some increased competency or skill to help them in their job search.” Many offer to work as unpaid interns to gain experience or get a reference.
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