The economic downturn and growing youth unemployment has forced graduates to take on part-time roles in a frantic bid to enter the job market.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that of those who graduated in 2010/11 one fifth were in part-time positions six months after leaving university.
Although graduate unemployment has fallen to 9%, some suggest this is as a result of a greater uptake of part-time jobs.
35,365, out of a total 158,440 (22%) graduates in employment were in part-time roles in 2010/11. This is an increase on figures for 2009/10 (20.8%) and 2008/9 (21.3%).
The data also revealed that more graduates were classified as self employed in 2010/11 (5%) this is up from a figure of 4.4%. However, far from these figures suggesting a new wave of graduate entrepreneurs many self-employed graduates are doing "odd jobs" such as decorating or cleaning just to make ends meet.
The volatile state of the job market was also revealed by an increase in the number of graduates in unpaid or voluntary work. This has shot up from 0.8% to 4%.
While a large share of graduates (45%) entered the world of work in managerial or professional jobs, such as graduate accounting jobs in London or working for law firms, part-time roles were often in sales or customer service roles.
According to the conclusions from a research project lead by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) and research agency CFE, finding a graduate position in the current market requires much more than just academic credentials.
Below are some of the skills that current employers look for in their graduate workforce:
Excellent communication skills: This refers to the ability to communicate effectively in all its forms -speaking, listening and presenting- to a range of audiences. Interestingly, the report placed multilingualism low on the list of a company’s employment priorities. The ability to speak a foreign language was considered an important, but not essential skill.
Learning agility: Being able to apply knowledge and understanding in new subjects to new challenges, circumstances and cultures was also highly valued. Adaptability, flexibility, resilience, drive and self-awareness were cited as essential qualities.
Interpersonal relations: Having the skills to work collaboratively and empathetically, as well as managing relationships with diverse teams and clients was also highly sought after by employers.