With the economic meltdown and recession that hit the world in 2007, there are still seismic shockwaves rocking the OECD - it is unsurprising then that in an age of austerity and instability, that jobs have dried up for young people.
To look at the statistics is shocking; Spain has the highest youth unemployment figures in the EU at 40%, compared to a Union average of 20.4%, for the U.S the figure is somewhere around 24.9% and in Britain it's 20.5%.
The fear of a ‘lost generation' is palpable, with policy makers nationally and in Brussels struggling to come up with ideas of how to create new opportunities.
Is it more university places?
Incentives for employers to hire young people?
Investment in new industries?
The argument for more university places is compelling, with the benefits of a degree or diploma in finding a job well recorded.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S reports that the unemployment figures for graduates stands at 4.5%, half the national average, and that "in 2009, the median weekly earnings of workers with bachelor's degrees were $1,137..... 1.8 times the average amount earned by those with only a high school diploma, and 2.5 times the earnings of high school dropouts."
However, the statistics are misleading, yes, most graduates might be able to find jobs but there are three central questions:
Will that be a full-time position or just part-time, temp or voluntary work?
Will that job be in their area of training?
Will a graduate require more education to be employable?
The first and third of these questions can be answered in the UK by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). HESA found that in 2008/09 only 51% of graduates had been able to find full-time work (compared with 77% in 2004/05) with 10% going part-time and 15% in further education.
The situation in the U.S looks similar, with The Huffington Post reporting in April that of the 700,000 jobs that were created between January and March, 80% were part-time - with a disproportionate amount of college graduates under 25 getting these positions.
So here we have the problem of underemployment evident in the UK and the US, a situation where a person is officially employed but finds themselves stuck not working enough hours to get by.
The problem is also exacerbated because employees know the power they have to keep you dangling with a full-time job offer that never happens.
It looks even worse when you find out that Andrew Sum from Northeastern University said to Good Education that he had "found that of the more than 2 million college graduates under the age of 25, about 700,000 have a job that doesn't require a degree."
These findings are mirrored by Labour leader Ed Miliband in the UK who gave a speech two days ago for his vision of education in Britain, saying that:
"We also have to recognise that one in five graduates in work are not doing graduate-level jobs.
In other words they are not being given the opportunity to use the skills for which they have worked so hard."
So as opposed to underemployment, another problem is "useless employment" - the money might be alright but the path to a career doesn't look promising.
To answer the second of these questions: Will that job be in their area of training? We turn to a fascinating study by Rutgers University entitled "Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy" and published in May 2011.
The study takes a look at 571 U.S college graduates that took 4 year degrees between 2006 - 2010 to analyse how they made their transition to "their initial position in the workforce."
What they found was that a full 30% of students were working in areas that were not very closely related or at all related to their academic work. There was then a further 26% that marked that their position was only "somewhat closely" related with their area of study and only 44% could say that their job related very closely.
The conclusions of the study was that "just half of recent college graduates took jobs that required a four-year college degree; 3 in 10 said their first post-college job had them working below what they perceived as their skill level. Moreover, 62% believe they will need more formal education if they are to be successful in their chosen careers."
Yet with all these dire forecasts for graduates what can you do now to get an edge and ensure you don't fall into percentages of the underemployed, the uselessly employed or the unemployed?
1. You'll keep hearing the word flexibility until it becomes meaningless; the key though is to really let the word sink in and consider what it means.
If your goal is to get a full-time position in your chosen field, in your chosen location you need to ask yourself: Which of those three components would you cut at the expense of the others?
For instance, can you find a part-time position in your chosen field, in your chosen city?
Will you maybe have to move regionally to get your dream job?
Or would a slightly different career path get you where you want to go?
You've read the startling statistics and must have realised it's not a jobs paradise out there, so you really need to take stock, consider all your options and develop a plan.
2. A lot of the preparation needs to be done at university
You need to ask yourself whether you're using your time at university to its full potential.
Clubs, student newspapers and casual jobs might sound unappealing but the people that have them on their resumes will have a much easier time of finding a job than those that don't.
The central point here is to try and do as much as possible to involve yourself in university life and get as many good experience points as you can.
If you're a politics or international studies student join the model U.N or the debating club.
If you study creative arts join the film club.
If you study law, start mooting.
They won't just boost your social life around campus, they'll also give you real skills that you can transfer into the work place.
Unfortunately though the amounts of shots you can consume in one hour and the time it takes to recover from 10 tequilas is unlikely to impress anyone.
3. Take internships in the summer.
Internships would have to be the bane of all university students today - yes, you might get good experience but you don't get paid.
In years gone by this would have been tantamount to slavery.
Nowadays we call it opportunity.
The point is that if you want to be employable you're going to need a lot of contacts and as much experience as you can muster. So instead of that trip to South America you were planning, why not consider sitting in an office and working all summer for free?
Probably not, but it will do wonders to show that you're disciplined, focused and committed to career your pursuing.
The only problem though is that internships due to their indentured servant like nature are going to need some sort of financial backing, so if you can afford to do one then you really should, because not everyone can.
Tell us about your hunt for a job, any ideas for new graduates? Tell us and remember...Disqus!