Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

The hard work is only starting for graduates

This weekend is a time for congratulations to the 10,000 students who have graduated from our universities in Northern Ireland, and to wish them all well.

Every graduation is a triumph for those who have passed their examinations, but also for their teachers and their families and friends who have helped them along the way.

The bad news is that because of the recession, it is harder to find employment.

This means that everyone will need to try harder to achieve their goal.

Leading business and recruitment experts have confirmed that this year's job market is the toughest ever, and with Northern Ireland already experiencing the highest rate of youth unemployment in the United Kingdom, there are fears that the influx of thousands of highly-qualified new job seekers could make the situation worse.

There is also the added difficulty that most of the new graduates are saddled with debt, due to the loans they took out to further their education, and they need to start earning money.

However, these new graduates already have a number of important advantages. They are well-educated, they are generally young and vibrant, and they have already shown the initiative required to obtain degrees.

A former Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, the late Sir Gordon Beveridge, was fond of saying that the main point of a university education is "learning to learn." Given that maxim, the next task for today's graduates is to learn how to extend their qualifications and also to look for the right kind of employment.

This is easier said than done. Some graduates will walk into new jobs, while others will develop their life skills by travelling widely or taking up temporary posts until the right path opens up for them.

Some of these challenging stories are contained in our reports in today's newspaper.

It is imperative, however, that enough of these young people with talent are also encouraged to apply these at home, sooner or later. Northern Ireland needs to attract more new jobs, and our bright young people are among our greatest assets for doing so.

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