Graduates Into Employment….

Many young people want to remain in cities like Liverpool after their higher education, but opportunities to develop professionally if they do so are still often quite limited. So what exactly is a ‘graduate job’? And how do graduate jobs fit in with local economies?
There’s a brand new ‘Met Quarter’ shopping arcade in Liverpool city centre which looks quite interesting, so that was where we headed in search of some coffee, after a meeting in town this morning.
The new arcade is indeed worth a good look – all shiny steel and glass and smart labels – but there was one aspect of it that certainly wasn’t new to us. Our friendly and welcoming waitress was someone we already know because she’s a recent graduate. Like several others of her graduating year, she is employed in a capacity which gives her an income, but doesn’t really use her formal skills.
A conundrum for cities on the edge
This is a familiar problem for cities like Liverpool, perceived by bright young people to have excitement and ‘edge’, but with relatively weak economies.
The question which always arises in this context is, how long will a recent graduate stay in employment which doesn’t fit their recently acquired formal skills? Is it right to encourage young people to stay? Or should we be encouraging them to fly the civic nest, with a promise that we’ll keep in touch?
Liverpool has plenty of graduate incubators and ‘Graduates into Work’ programmes. Both have very important functions in the local economy. The former helps proto-type entrepreneurs to take their ideas forward; the latter, of course amongst other things, is often especially helpful for local graduates who already have their homes and families in Merseyside and need to stay.
The initial post-graduate years are critical
Is there an issue when young graduates remain in Liverpool in low-skill jobs, just at the time when they should be busily extending their experience and applying thier newly acquired knowledge?
Figures on graduate retention beyond a year or two are notoriously difficult to find for given locations. These are however crucial to our understanding of how the high skills agenda should be developed in an emerging economy such as Merseyside’s.
What some graduates and those with second degrees actually do after graduation remains a mystery, but the suspicion is that if they stay in a city like Liverpool they do not always fully use their new skills. Maybe we need to be honest enough on occasion to help them get experience elsewhere which, we all hope, they will later come back to Liverpool to use.
A fair exchange?
That young graduates want to stay and enjoy the vitality of a city such as Liverpool is excellent. Their enthusiasm and determination to make something of their lives here is something everyone warmly welcomes. But if we want these young people to develop their potential properly, we need to think of ways to establish a freeflow of skills and experience between our own backyard and other places.
Then, when the local economy really does come up to speed, we’ll have plenty of skilled and experienced people waiting, who already know us and want to be part of it.

Posted on May 17, 2006, in Education, Health And Welfare, Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Liverpool And Merseyside, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, The Journal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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