Skills for London

The Event of the Year

Self employment

Self employment: an option students need to consider

Often overlooked, the self-employment option for graduates could come to the fore in the current recruitment climate…

As the year continues to fly by, we are fast approaching June, the month that will see thousands of new graduates entering an extremely difficult job market with little hope of success if recent news is anything to go by.

According to new research from Prospects on graduating into a pandemic, 29% of final year students have lost their jobs and 26% have lost their internships while 28% have had their graduate job offer deferred or rescinded.

In the survey of nearly 5,000 students and graduates by Prospects, the graduate careers and employability service that is now part of Jisc, job losses and fewer opportunities have left almost half (47%) of finalists now contemplating a postgraduate course and 29% are considering a career change.

Almost two-thirds of final year students now feel negative about their future careers. The majority reported that they are lacking in motivation (83%) and feel disconnected from employers (82%).


It is true that the current landscape for graduate opportunities is a challenging and uncertain one. In many cases it is likely to have left young people wondering if a university degree is even worth the paper it is printed on. Amidst all of this doom and gloom, Tom Endean at the BFA (British Franchise Association) believes that there are alternative opportunities out there for more entrepreneurial graduate but finding them might entail a shift in the overall ‘career thought-process’ and an open mind to the possible pathways one’s career might take.

“With the average graduate owing debts of £35,000 the prospect of studying for three or four years with no guarantee of income at the end of it is a daunting one for many young people today.  There is no question that a certain level of academic capability is vital for the future evolution of our planet.

“People want and need to learn, it is part of what makes us human and gaining a university degree is still, in my opinion, a valid decision. What is questionable is the number of opportunities out there for graduates, yes there are less jobs than there were ten years ago but there are still prospects out there for those willing to look for them.

“Take franchising as an example; there is common misconception that franchising is all about fast-food or multi-billion pound industries that only the wealthy can indulge in. This is far from true. You can actually purchase a decent franchise business for around £15 – £18k (when compared with the level of debt many students are expected to owe upon leaving university – this no longer sounds so daunting).

“Of course, I’m not suggesting for one minute that a student walks out of college and buys a franchise; this is both highly unlikely and probably not the best move and, let’s not overlook the fact that franchising won’t be suitable for every graduate. Running a successful business takes experience, a good commercial understanding of the industry sector and basic business acumen. This is not something that can be gained overnight. But for example, those graduates working for fast-food restaurants at the weekend to simply earn that little bit of extra cash, might be missing a trick.

“What if that position was instead viewed as a learning curve and as a route to one day having your own business? Rather than viewing these opportunities as ‘dead end jobs’, it is possible that they could be a pathway to a much bigger career prospect. Many young people have worked their way up (in this way) to go on to owning their own franchise – what better way to gain first-hand knowledge of how to run a successful business?

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