Jobcentre tells graduate to dumb down her CV


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Fuelling fears that a degree is no longer a passport to a good job, a Portsmouth woman has been told by Jobcentre staff to leave her degree off her CV - because it puts employers off.

Rachel Sawford achieved a 2.1 degree in social work from the University of Portsmouth, despite juggling study and single motherhood. But, she says, she was shocked to be told by a job centre advisor that she'd be more employable without.

"They asked if I had my CV, so I gave it to her. She said 'this is lovely but you will have to amend it' because, she said, I would be overqualified for some jobs," Ms Sawford told the Portsmouth News.

"I have worked since I was 16; this is the first time I have been on benefits. I want to get off benefits but I will not take my achievement off my CV. They are saying everything that I have achieved in the past three years is worth nothing."

The story highlights the increasing difficulty faced by graduates in finding appropriate jobs. While in 1992, only 17 percent of the adult population had a degree, this figure has now risen to 38 percent - and the number of equivalent jobs has failed to keep pace.

Figures released last week by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that almost half of recent graduates are now in non-graduate jobs, compared with 37 percent in 2001.

Ironically, social science graduates such as Ms Sawford actually have better chances than most. A recent report from the Campaign for Social Science shows that, three and a half years after leaving university, 84 percent were working, compared with 79 percent of arts and humanities graduates. Of these, 7.6 percent of social science graduates were managers or senior officials, compared with 3.6 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates and 6.2 percent of arts and humanities graduates.

"Social science graduates... have the skills of analysis, interpretation and communication that our economy and society needs," says campaign chair Professor James Wilsdon.

"The UK is a world leader in social science, and it's vital that we maintain this capacity. Teaching and training the next generation of social scientists is an investment that will repay itself many times over."

Unfortunately, though, Ms Sawford's experience is far from unique, with many graduates reporting that they've been told to dumb their CVs down. Last month, University of Hull graduate Liza Fitzpatrick said that she too had been told to remove her social and community care work from her CV.

Her local MP, Labour's Karl Turner, told the Hull Daily Mail: "It is very worrying that unemployed graduates in Hull are being advised to remove qualifications in an attempt to secure any type of employment. It is clear that the bigger issue here is the lack of suitable graduate jobs in the city."

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