Graduates seem to be questioning the value of UK university education and more are open to the idea of taking their skills abroad to work in highly skilled and better paid jobs, suggests a new survey from talent management providers, SHL.

The survey, which polled 1,000 recent graduates and 350 graduate recruiters, also revealed that 40 per cent of graduates would not have gone to university if they had to pay £9k fees each year. In addition, 73 per cent of graduates would consider moving abroad to find work that was better paid.

All graduates polled would be prepared to work unpaid to gain experience in their chosen field. 39 per cent are prepared to work more than three months unpaid to find a job. This may be because 40 per cent of companies do not pay interns, yet 43 per cent of recruiters rate work experience as the most important attribute to look for when sifting through application forms.

Despite some of the lengths graduates will go to in order to progress their career, such as lengthy unpaid internships, only 39 per cent of graduates would consider marketing themselves to potential recruiters online. However, recruiters are already using social media to screen candidates, for example 34 per cent of recruiters use LinkedIn to screen candidates, but only five per cent of graduates use LinkedIn to apply for roles.

Sean Howard VP Business Solutions, SHL, comments, “The UK is failing its graduates. School leavers are faced with difficult decisions, not only has the cost of going to university risen, but UK employment options are bleak. Graduates are also under pressure to undertake unpaid internships in order to gain a foothold on the career ladder. It’s not just university that carriers a high price, but gaining work experience too. This could mean a future where the best jobs are reserved for those that can afford to attend university and clock up the most unpaid experience. Understandably our graduates are open to the idea of seeking their career abroad, and the UK industry is faced with a potential brain drain. If the government won’t reconsider the tuition fees, our recruiters need to reconsider their hiring criteria.”

He continues, “What also really strikes me about these results is that graduates are missing a trick when it comes to social media, yet they are the generation that uses this communication channel so much in their personal lives. It appears the potential for social media to aid job hunting has not yet been realised by graduates.”