The widening gap between education and work

The gulf between full-time education and the world of work is widening, according to educational institutions and employers – and graduates themselves.


Rosie Carrow

Rosie Carrow

Content writer

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Changing demographics, increased competition among graduates and more exacting requirements from employers now mean that the transition from university (or other study) into the workplace is difficult and lengthy. Unemployment among young adults is higher than general unemployment in many developed economies, and the period following the financial crisis exacerbated this trend.

The low economic growth experienced in the years after the financial crisis meant that graduates found themselves in roles which traditionally would have been filled by non-graduates. Research published in November 2017 by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that six months after leaving full-time study, half of UK graduates in work were in non-graduate roles, with females earning less than their male counterparts. Even so, graduates appear more likely to be employed than nongraduates (see graph).

Experience is the key

Research suggests that employers are increasingly risk-averse when it comes to recruitment. One consequence is that they value experience more highly, and are less impressed by qualifications. “The biggest challenge in the move from university to work is the lack of experience,” says Verity Graham, who works in the Careers Service at the
University of Bristol. She stresses the importance of having any kind of work experience.

Graduates Postgraduates Non-Graduates “All experience is good experience,” she says. Periods of work experience are not only important elements of building a CV, but they can significantly help grow knowledge of an industry or business area ahead of future applications. “Recruitment is now an arduous and lengthy process,” says Verity. It’s not uncommon to have five or six steps.” Many large businesses invest heavily in programmes that help engage with school and university students as a way of ensuring they identify and compete for the best of the next generation’s talent. Many graduate intake schemes now enrol a year in advance, so those who graduated this year may find themselves looking for vacancies arising in 2019.

Young population (21-30-year-olds) Employment rates:


Case study – the graduate scheme employee

Kallum Marsden, 24, is a 2015 graduate in economics from Durham University. He joined the Schroders Graduate Scheme in 2017 and is part way through a two-year programme which will see him work in a number of departments at Cazenove Capital. Kallum has known for some time that he wanted a career in investment, and this influenced his choice of A-level subjects and degree. Despite relevant experience, finding a role wasn’t easy. Only half of the firms he applied to acknowledged his applications. He says: “Start early. The more experience you get the better. Also, research the job and company to make sure it is what you want to do and the place to do it.”

Case study – the Young Investor Day attendee

Lizzy Cryar, 23, is studying politics at King’s College London and will complete her master’s degree next year. She attended a Cazenove Capital Young Investor Day in August in order to widen her understanding of financial markets. She has secured a job working in the field of public policy for when she completes her studies. Obtaining her job offer “entailed tough months of applications and interviews”, she says. She estimates that in 80% of cases her applications were not acknowledged: “Improving for next time became a guessing game as to where you went wrong.” She believes internships are a useful route to employment. “Doing some work experience and hoping to impress sufficiently enough to turn it into a long-term contract seems one of the easier ways to get employed,” she says.

Case study – the Schroders summer work experience

Sharon Onokaye- Akaka, 21, is two years into a history degree at King’s College London. Like many students, Sharon does not have a clear idea of what she would like to do. She has learnt the hard way that to be in the running for a good internship, you have to apply extremely early. Internship placements for summer 2018 were filled in late 2017. Similarly to Lizzy, Sharon found there were multiple stages to the interview process. Feedback was generally helpful and some companies even gave feedback after each stage. She warns others to be prepared to go the extra mile. “You have to put in the time and effort to prepare yourself fully.” She spent a fortnight working with Schroders’ public relations department, which gave her a glimpse into many parts of the business.

What we offer

Cazenove Capital and Schroders Wealth Management run a series of Young Investor Days in the UK throughout the year. These are aimed at 16-18-year-olds and 19-25-year-olds. Attendees are introduced to staff operating in a range of business areas, giving an opportunity to learn about financial markets and providing a glimpse of working life in the City of London. The sessions include a CV workshop. Further details can be found inside the front cover of this magazine. In addition, we offer a range of internships, work placements and apprenticeships across Schroders and Cazenove Capital. We are recruiting now for summer 2019. For more information, email


Rosie Carrow

Rosie Carrow

Content writer

This article is issued by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroders Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.

All data contained within this document is sourced from Cazenove Capital unless otherwise stated.