After several weeks of anxious waiting, Julie Alexander, a former Napier University law graduate was made redundant from her firm at the start of September following the global financial crisis.
She says: “After hearing from word of mouth that four people had been made redundant from our office in Glasgow, the management did not tell the rest of the office if there would be any more redundancies made or why there were redundancies in the first place; they just got rid of us.
“They even said to one girl “We are going to make you redundant unless you come up with a reason as to why we should keep you on? You have two days” The girl walked out.”
Julie’s firm dealt with conveyance, estate property and family law. She explains: “In about February this year, properties went up for sale and by September some had not been sold. Over the summer period the phone hardly ever rang and it became much, much quieter”.
The young woman took her concerns to her superior on a Monday morning and was left simmering until Friday before she got an answer. The former Napier student remembers: “By this point I was a mess, not knowing what was happening with in the firm and for me.
“The managing partner said: “I discussed what you asked on Monday with the other partners and we have decided there is no place for you here to get training. I’m afraid we have to ask you to leave. We will pay you for the next week only, you can work that week or you can leave at any time.” I left 15 minutes after. I was gutted and packed up my desk.”
Steve McLellan, career adviser in Napier University says: “The sectors which are the most affected at the minute are the house buildings, construction, investment banking and general property market. It could soon spread to retail and manufacturing.”
On a positive note, McLellan adds: “The strong areas in this economical context are general engineering with Aberdeen and the North Sea oil, most public sectors notably the health and civil services and education.
“Supermarkets are a good bet for graduates because they’re weathering the storm whereas more general retail is affected by the downturn. People will always need to go to the supermarket.”
After her traumatic experience, Julie no longer wants to go on with law and has found a six month temp job. For McLellan, the challenge for graduates will now be to use their original skills for different purposes.
“I believe there is a trend of under-employment”, he says, “Although graduates are still finding jobs, it might a job they are over-qualified for and will have to work their way up the ladder to get where they want.”
Stuart McBride, chief executive for Blue Arrow recruitment agency told Radio 5: “We are in challenging times. We’ve found difficulties in the logistics, distribution and construction sector with a reduction in the demands for skilled and trades labour. We’re not immune to that as employment agency. We reflect what’s happening in the economy.
“Having said that we have sectors that are doing particularly well. Our catering sector is doing well and growing on year to year basis, our public sector businesses are doing well and in terms of our niches areas engineering and technical are doing well.”