Graduates penalised by public sector

January 12, 1996

An MP has claimed that graduates are facing discrimination for public sector jobs in Northern Ireland.

Robert McCartney, independent MP for North Down, said parents should think twice about sending children to tertiary education, because it was often a waste of money.

His comments came after a parliamentary answer showed the number of jobs in the Northern Ireland civil service which require a degree was only 5.7 per cent in 1993/94 and just 7.4 per cent last year.

Brian Lindon, head of careers at the University of Ulster, has called for an inquiry into how graduates in the province are being used.

Mr McCartney said graduates were being unfairly penalised by the Department for Education because it encouraged a quarter of teenagers to enter higher education but then stipulated that less than 8 per cent of public sector jobs should be filled by degree holders.

"The DFE is funding tertiary education for 25 per cent of our children and then restricting entry. This is an imbalance and a waste of resources and I would warn parents to think twice about higher education if so many of the best jobs are available to people with A levels and GCSEs just out of school," he said.

Mr Linden said: "We are not at a crisis point but the nightmare scenario is the potential for large numbers of unemployed graduates. There should be a fresh look at how our graduates are being used and something must be done to prevent able students falling between the two stools of employers seeking the brightest and best and organisations recruiting quite bright people into humdrum jobs."

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