Gain the competitive edge- ride out the downturn by retraining
Graduates this year have a few more financial worries than previous years. They are the first to graduate with record levels of student debt having had three years of additional top up fees and now they face a working world in the grip of recession. The answer for some graduates is to retrain. Postgraduate study provides an opportunity to gain qualifications that set you aside from the competition. You improve your chances of getting a well paid job.
According to The Independent on Sunday, the number of postgraduate applications to UCL is a fifth higher than last year, a pattern that has been evident in previous economic downturns: "In the past more students have tended to do postgraduate studies, in particular Masters degrees, during a recession" says Malcolm McCrae, who chairs the UK Council for Graduate Education. "If it goes to form, we would expect a similar trend this year." (Independent)
However think your next move through carefully. Is a postgraduate qualification necessary for your chosen field or would it be better to find temporary part time employment? As Anne-Marie Martin of the University of London career service points out: "It's understandable that people are choosing to apply for postgraduate study, but it's a strategy not without risk. If this recession follows the same pattern as others, recruitment will be much worse next year than this, so you may come out with a Masters and more debt, into a labour market that is even worse."
Postgraduate qualifications may be expensive and won’t guarantee employment, but the job market is unstable regardless. The chances are that a postgraduate degree will improve your employability. As the Higher Education Statistics Agency survey reveals, leavers with postgraduate qualifications were most likely to be in full-time paid work (including self-employment) (78.8%) followed by those with a first degree (75.7%) and leavers with other undergraduate qualifications (71.1%)
If you have the inclination, funds and opportunity to do a postgraduate course make sure you chose one that is a step towards your dream job. The likelihood is that your studies will give you the time and tools to improve your skills and prospects.