Three ways to reduce graduate unemployment

Graduate unemployment in Denmark hits record high. Far to many graduates find no way to enter Danish labour market, making many years of expensive education a waste of time and money – for the individual graduate as well as for society as a whole.

Something needs to be done. And at DSF we see the task to alleviate graduate unemployment as a structural challenge for Danish politicians and business life. How can we make Danish labour market capable of benefiting from the huge resource of innovative power and new knowledge that comes with graduates?

At DSF we suggest and support a wide range of initiatives which each in its own way will help to bridge between education and business life. We’ll here present three of these initiatives.

1) The ice-breaker-scheme
One barrier making it difficult for university graduates is a general lack of knowledge as to how a person with a higher education can contribute to a business. Thus many businesses may choose not to employ highly educated people, however by doing so, they may never realise how they might benefit from having highly educated employees in their enterprise.

The ice-breaker-scheme is designed to make small business (that is: with up to 50 employees) with no highly educated employees realise how they might prosper from employing one or several highly educated people. The scheme offers this specific group of enterprises a grant if they employ a highly educated person: A 50% refund of that person’s wage, making it possible for the enterprise to explore what a highly educated person might bring to the business in the form new knowledge, innovative ideas or simple an alternative perspective on the specific area of commerce.

2) The academic-campaign
The academic-campaign is created to shed light on highly educated people’s value to Danish enterprises and to support the bridge between the academic world and business life. The campaign is driven by a network of key players specialised in facilitating the meeting between Danish business life and high educated people.

By focusing on business life as well as employment agencies the campaign aims to uncover how highly educated people can contribute to a business and how employment agencies can support highly educated people in finding a job. Thus the academic-campaign targets relevant players from all key areas related to the current situation of excessive graduate unemployment.

3) Support graduate entrepreneurship
Graduates often possess a large amount of entrepreneurship and innovative ideas. Starting a business therefore immediately seems like the obvious thing to do for many graduates facing unemployment. However most graduates don’t have the economic ballast needed to get a business up and going. When starting an enterprise one will often have to face a temporary period of low income before the business-model fully consolidates and the income rises.

By offering graduates the possibility to mix small scale income from early-stage entrepreneurship with income from existing government support schemes, one would bring down a huge barrier for graduates to start up their own business.

These are only three ideas as how to make the labour market capable of prospering from graduates. Surely there must be many other ideas out there! Please don’t hesitate to comment or bring forth your own thoughts on this matter!