As new data shows a third of recent graduates are in low-skilled jobs, one recruiter tells Channel 4 News that the flood of graduates has seen employers "raise the bar" and some jobs "remain hidden".
New figures published by the Office for National Statistics reveal that 18.9 per cent of recent graduates were out of work in the final three months of 2011. That is a slight dip from the 20.5 per cent peak following the recession.
But the statistics also show a significant rise in the number of graduates who are taking up lower-skilled jobs after leaving university.
In the final three months of last year, 35.9 per cent of graduates who completed their degree in the last six years were in low-skilled jobs, which include working in hospitality, operating machines, postal work and cleaning.
That compares to around one in four who were employed in lower skilled jobs in 2001.
'Huge financial pressures'
Co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, Dan Hawes, told Channel 4 News that his company is "still placing graduates in highly-skilled jobs every day" and he believes the figures may be distorted by the surging number of graduates.
"Last year we had the highest number of graduates entering job markets. So there is lots of adjustment going on."
He says that many graduates are being dissuaded by the current economic climate and many are "giving up" or doing further study.
"Others are applying to any job, which is not a bad strategy- but it won't get you your dream job straight away.
"But for some, there is a huge financial pressure to start earning money straight away.
"Some people aren't finding jobs because they remain hidden internally, or you only hear about them on the grapevine or through certain recruitment agencies."
But the latest figures suggest that workers who have been to university do earn more.
The typical hourly earnings for all graduates aged 21 to 64 throughout 2011 was £15.18, while non-graduates typically earned an hourly wage of £8.92.
Those with a degree in medicine or dentistry earned considerably more, with an average hourly wage of £21.29.
'Tough' job market
Mr Hawes told Channel 4 News that while there is still a demand for highly-skilled graduates - particularly in the science and technology sectors - the market remains "tough out there".
"It's still worth going to university, if you choose the right course at the right uni.
"But it's a question of supply and demand. And there are so many graduates in the jobs market that employers have raised the bar a little bit.
"Some people are having to work for nothing, that's even becoming normal in some industries."
Everyone 'hit hard'
Recent graduate, Julia, has a master's degree in global studies. But despite applying for at least 20 jobs in the past few months, she has been forced to take work in a pub.
"Lots of people I know are doing internships and working at a bar. Or looking at going back to study or do things like a law conversion to find work.
Lots of people I know are doing internships and working at a bar. There are three of us with Master's degrees who are working at the pub. Julia, 27, recent graduate
"There are three of us with master's degrees who are working at the pub. It's not ideal, but it's some form of income to get me by for now."
She told Channel 4 News that she is starting internships at two different organisations in the coming weeks, but as they are unpaid, she will need to continue other work to pay the bills.
"I'll still need to keep on doing bar work and transcription work as well. There is an allowance, but in terms of earning money, no.
"The majority of jobs I've been looking at are under £30,000. And when you look at the skills you need, that's pretty low pay," she said.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that while the recession has hit everyone hard, you are still better off if you have graduated from university.
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"The recession has hit the job prospects of recent graduates but they are still nearly 20 per cent more likely to be in work than people without degrees.
"Raising the skills of UK workers must be accompanied with an industrial strategy focused on boosting high-value industries such as manufacturing. Otherwise public investment in education and the talents of UK graduates will be wasted."