Universities Minister Michelle Donelan

Universities Minister @MichelleDonelan offers her top tips for graduates looking for jobs this year:

I still remember the day I graduated and the mixture of excitement and nervousness I felt around what was to come. Choosing what to do next felt daunting, and it took me a while to land on my feet and choose the career path that would work for me.

I can only imagine the concerns this year’s students may feel graduating into the current jobs market, and I want to reassure you that you are not doing so alone.

Whether your next step is jumping straight into an organisation and working your way up, getting experience as an intern, starting a post graduate course or extending your studies, I want you all to make the decisions that work best for you and your future.

Here are some of my top tips and resources – have a read, think carefully about your options, and I wish you the best of luck in your future careers.

1. Check your university’s resources and guidance

All universities want their graduates to do well and the vast majority are offering everything from career hubs to CV writing services, to help you take the next step.

We have asked universities to bolster their work in this area and have seen some fantastic examples of support already.

Manchester Metropolitan University for example is running an employer-designed programme to teach graduates local skills, the University of Winchester is offering lifetime careers advice through a ‘graduate careers pack’, and the University of Portsmouth is checking in on all final year students for one on one support through their bespoke phone campaign.

Make sure you get in touch with your university and see what is available.

2. Contact the National Careers Service

The National Careers Service has also just introduced a range of new initiatives, designed to offer accessible careers guidance and activities for students and anyone else whose career path has been impacted by COVID-19.

To keep up with growing demand, we have invested an extra £32 million into the platform which will help us provide careers advice for up to 270,000 more people, so make sure you get in touch!

Other online platforms such as Prospects, Target Connect, Career Hub, Placer, Job Teaser and Handshake are also helpful, with hundreds of listings across the country for graduates to apply for.

3. Get help through your local jobcentre

Another great place to start is the Job Help website which lists thousands of vacancies throughout the UK, as well as practical advice on CV writing, applications and interviews.

To help more people receive tailored support such as work coaches and locally based youth hubs, we have announced funding for an additional 13,500 frontline staff - make sure you make the most of this support in your area.

4. Stay flexible and consider other career paths

Entering the job market during this time may require flexibility and it is good to consider areas which fall outside of your course’s typical career paths.

One area many graduates might consider is teaching, and the Government’s Get into Teaching and Teach first programmes are great ways to transition into the profession, with plenty of bursaries on offer to help with the costs.

If you are a little unsure and want to try it out first, our new National Tutoring Programme has also just launched. The programme is a fantastic opportunity to gain real life classroom experience as a paid academic mentor, whilst helping disadvantaged pupils bounce back from the effects of COVID-19. Applications open shortly, so register your interest today.

Another rewarding area you may wish to consider is social work. Here there are a number of great work-based training programmes for graduates, as well as a two-year postgraduate degree. Take a look at all the options and available bursaries here.

5. Broaden and freshen up your skill sets

Staying flexible and considering wider career paths will likely require wider skillsets, and it is important to keep these as up to date as possible. Take a look at our Skills Toolkit and see what steps you can take to brush up on your numeracy and digital skills, or even learn something new in business or coding.

We will be adding a wider range of courses soon, so make sure you check the platform regularly.

6. Have a look in your local area for graduate employment programmes

As our economy starts to recover, we want to see local businesses growing and investing in local talent. Many regions across the UK are running challenges for graduates in their areas, helping them to find jobs locally.

The Office for Students’ Local Graduates competition for example, includes 16 projects across England to help graduates into employment, whilst Sheffield’s RISE project is working directly with businesses to help them recruit local graduates.

Contact your university or visit your local council’s website to see if there is anything similar running in your region.

7. Consider a post graduate course

Whilst many of you may be eager to get on the career ladder, a recent Prospects study suggests that around 47% of final year students are currently considering post-graduate study.

We know this is a big investment, so to help with course fees and living costs you can apply for a loan or bursary. Application deadline dates vary, so make sure to check your eligibility soon.

We have also removed restrictions on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths part-time degree courses, meaning that students on these courses who already hold a degree can now access student loans.

Before you apply, it is crucial that you choose a course that will help you be attractive to employers. The Office for Students has supported new conversion courses in AI and data science to help graduates adapt to the current job market and funding will start in 2021 – so plenty of time to do some research!

Michelle Donelan, Universities Minister

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