Toni Pearce
Toni Pearce is the president of the NUSNUS

At the National Union of Students (NUS) we believe that work is the bedrock of a fair and prosperous society and it should be fulfilling and rewarding. It's why I've made employment one of my top priorities for the year. Our own research shows that 95% of students' principal hope is to get a good job once they've completed their studies.

However, the fact that many graduates are still looking for work six months after leaving university is no surprise to us. Hearing that many graduates will travel for miles to attend a job interview just goes to show how important finding a job is for my generation.

The problem for current students and study leavers is not simply 'graduate employment', it goes far beyond this to the endemic problem of youth unemployment in the UK, which is what we need to urgently address.

Unfortunately, the labour market for young people at the moment looks pretty bleak. We have one million young people unemployed and a further two thirds of a million underemployed in our country.

Many have to work for long periods in unpaid internships just to get their foot on the career ladder. Apprentices working for a vocational job don't have it any easier - the government's own evidence last year showed a fifth of apprentices were paid below the pathetic wage of £2.68 an hour.

The lack of graduate jobs is just one issue under the more catastrophic umbrella of youth unemployment. Graduates will always survive better than non-graduates, who are in fact twice as likely to be unemployed, according to NUS research, "Modern Jobs Economy". A rise in graduate jobs does not mean that the wider and more pressing issue of youth unemployment will just disappear.

Then there's the issue of underemployment. Recent graduates are more likely to work in a lower skilled job than ten years ago. The ONS Graduate Labour Market 2012 shows that nearly 35.9%, or more than one in three recent graduates are employed in a lower skilled job compared with 26.7% in 2001. This is symptomatic of downward momentum in the job market.

Graduates may also be working less than they want to with an increase in part time working as well as increases in voluntary and unpaid work. These are not unsurprising outcomes. In a tight labour market with pent up demand for employment, graduates must either take what they can get or gain experience in unpaid positions in an effort to enter the labour market.

This intense competition in the labour market has created a bumping down effect where those with graduate degrees are working in lower skilled jobs and those who would have formerly taken these positions are further squeezed out of the labour market.

Furthermore, in this employers market, candidates are having to fulfil growing lists of requirements before they are given access to a paid job. Everyone is losing out here. My generation stands to be the first in modern history to worse off than our parents.

Anxieties about the job market are clearly the biggest concern for students. Last year we asked our members what their one biggest concern for their future was and the top three answers were finding a job full stop, finding a job they enjoy and finding a job with a decent wage.

What's more disheartening is that students don't believe the government is dealing with the problem, and don't feel their concerns are adequately represented in government. Only 26% of students we polled believed that the government is addressing youth employment issues and only 15% felt able to influence the decisions of those in power. We need the government to wake up and listen to our concerns and take action on this now.

Because the next generation need a future based upon investment not cuts, opportunity not hopelessness, good sustainable jobs and quality public education. We don't want to be a generation left on the scrap heap. Our young people deserve it and we will work to make sure they get it.

Toni Pearce is the president of the NUS