One in five pupils is expected to get grade “A” passes this year. This is 8.4% higher than in 2015. However, students should not give up on their education goals, even if the grades they receive do not live up to expectations.
The government has seized on this statistic, saying that it proved the introduction of tuition fees had not deterred students from applying. The most popular degree is now Law, followed by Design, Psychology and then English. Despite today’s hype, how can students ensure that their degree will result in a firm job offer and an opportunity to develop their career?
A degree in one of these four subjects – law, design, psychology and English – does not necessarily lead to a subsequent career in the core field. Indeed, less than fifteen percent of psychology graduates go on to practise as a psychologist in any capacity. Like Psychology, Law has transferable skills prized in other career paths (e.g. well evidenced research, analytical and problem solving skills, attention to detail, and negotiating and communication skills etc.).
Besides skills, commitment and achievement demonstrated through degree level study, employers look for additional extra-curricular activities and work experience. For example, if you are serious about entering the legal profession today, it is too competitive to expect to get just a good degree and go on to take your bar exams or qualify as a solicitor. Many students will have gained legal work experience, perhaps organised by the student law society.
In addition, informal work experience can often be organised with law centres, citizens’ advice bureaux, in the courts and with legal departments in central/local government, and sometimes with solicitors’ firms. If you intend to work within the legal profession, your future employers will want evidence that you have learned something over and above your curriculum. Volunteer prospects can be researched here according to your skills and local area.
When selecting a course to study, you should consider whether you are better off studying something that you will enjoy or something that will provide better career prospects. When considering this question remember that degree courses are three to five years duration and studying for that length of time is going to be very hard work if you hate your subject!
Also the days of a ‘job for life’ are long gone – for many even a ‘career for life’ is not going to work out! Even if you do remain in the same sector, it is unlikely that you will be able to do so without reinforcing and updating your training. Much must depend on your own interests and ambition, and a vocational degree is not going to make you successful in itself.
Figures regarding graduate unemployment make interesting reading, and while professions fair well, they do not guarantee employment (and Computer Science, which one might have assumed to be a particularly safe bet, fares particularly poorly).