The competition for jobs has never been so challenging. An increasing number of students are finding themselves with good degrees but nowhere to work. Even those studying at Cambridge, Oxford and St Andrews have more than a five per cent chance of being unemployed six months after completing their course.
One St Andrews graduate has sought to tackle these figures by setting up a small online graduate recruitment business. The Saint sat down with Paul Young, the founder of Grad-Careers Ltd, to discuss how his start-up could provide a creative solution to the employment struggle our generation currently faces.
Mr Young began by scrutinising existing graduate jobs websites. From market research he conducted while studying in St Andrews, he found that “they were too corporate and focused on driving businesses to advertise rather than centered around graduates.”
This belief, coupled with the need for capital to finance his postgraduate study in Lancaster, is ultimately what drove him to develop Grad-Careers Ltd. The company’s aim was to provide an aesthetically pleasing website that would implement “a streamlined, efficient and simple job posting ability for employers” with graduates remaining at the centre of its philosophy. Mr Young envisaged that job seekers would have a host of career paths made available to them and would be fully equipped with careers advice and resources designed to improve the odds of securing one of the desired job positions.
The number of employers linked with Grad-Careers Ltd. has steadily increased since the establishment of the business. Some major names include Raleigh International, Acquila Heywood and Boots UK.
Setting up the company has not been smooth sailing, however. Mr Young described the development of Grad-Careers Ltd as “a rollercoaster of ups and downs”.
Studying geography at St Andrews, he did not possess the skills to construct a commercially viable website, nor did he know about the legal aspects of registering a limited liability company. Dealing with Companies House and the Information Commissioner’s Office (concerned with data protection and freedom of information advice) to gain support for his business, therefore, has been a testing exploit. He estimates that it took about eight months to set up the business, and remarked that the initiative “will continue to run alongside my further education in Lancaster.”
In line with his graduate-centered philosophy, Mr Young used his experience in St Andrews to help build a company that understands its primary customers.
He “decided that ten per cent of the company’s overall profits would be placed into a number of sponsorship packages, so that students who struggle financially would have aid made accessible to them.”
No stranger to the monetary demands placed upon students during and after university education, Mr. Young believes that this scheme is an essential element of his services. It is referred to as the ‘Grad-Careers Booster’ on the company website.
Mr Young concluded by reflecting upon his start-up journey. Although he stressed that it had been difficult to build the company from the ground up, he added that “it has all been rewarding and a great experience for building interpersonal and professional skills.” In a sense, not only has Paul Young’s development of Grad- Careers Ltd helped improve the employability of others, it has aided his own as well.
Overall, it seems that Mr Young’s venture into entrepreneurship has been worthwhile. It has certainly been received positively by its stakeholders. Charter Legal states that it is the good, reliable human contact behind the website that makes it so useful, while a Chinese internship company, Intuu China, says the website’s user-friendly layout without ads is its biggest selling point.
Regardless of what makes it a successful initiative, it is refreshing to see that someone from the local community is helping to tackle the increasingly pressing issue of graduate unemployment from a student perspective.