The research from career matchmaking platform 10 Minutes With found that students expect to spend time either as an unpaid intern or on a zero-hours contract after graduation.
Manfredi Di Cintio, founder of 10 Minutes With, said that employers must work to dispel this myth by highlighting and preparing students for the graduate job opportunities available. “Internships can be a great way for graduates to get a foot in the door and for the employee and employer to gauge their compatibility with one another,” he said. “However, there are thousands of excellent paid graduate jobs going unfilled because companies are mismanaging their recruitment and struggling to find young talent with the right set of skills.
“Interning is certainly an option, but companies and graduates really should see this as a secondary choice.”
The research also found that although more than a third (34%) of respondents were studying STEM courses, less than two-thirds (62%) are planning to (or are confident that they can) continue the subject into their career.
Edwina Dunn, chair of careers advice campaign Your Life, said that young people often decide not to study STEM subjects for fear of failing and that organisations should counteract this by sending a clear message that STEM skills are highly valued. “Schools, universities and employers often prioritise grades, so there is a widespread culture of grade failure avoidance,” she said. “This means students turn away or are turned away by the school from progressing these subjects. So employers end up with a massive shortfall of STEM qualified students, which means that thousands of jobs lie open.
“We would like employers to positively discriminate around STEM skills because that's what businesses desperately need,” she added.
In contrast to graduates' low expectations around pay, the poll also found that almost two-thirds of students (63%) expect to secure a job interview in fewer than 10 applications, even though employers receive (on average) 39 applications for every graduate job. This suggests a need to manage expectations around the fact that – though paid opportunities certainly exist – perseverance is required.